7.6 Diabetes

A number of studies have established beyond any doubt that the Maltese both in Malta and in Australia are prone to suffer from diabetes. Martin et al (1984) in a study involving 396 Maltese-bom persons living in Sunshine (Victoria) found that over 9% had some evidence of diabetes as shown by an abnormal glucose tolerance test, with frank diabetes in 4.5%. These authors found moreover that a positive history of known diabetes was present in 46% of first degree relatives (a parent or a sibling) of subjects with normal glucose tolerance test. This incidence is similar to that found in Malta.

The mortality from diabetes in males is 20/100,000, and in females it is 41/100,000. Not only are females twice as likely to die form diabetes as males, but they almost three times as likely as the Australian born to die from this disease. The age-specific mortality rates for females are particularly striking after the age of 64 when it reaches 742/100,000 or nearly nine times as high as the Australian born females.

While the number of deaths directly attributed to diabetes is not large in absolute terms, it must be remembered that diabetes leads to several circulatory complications which themselves could be the cause of death - see below.

Source: Maurice N. Cauchi - Maltese Migrants in Australia, Malta 1990

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