Diabetes associated with increased risk of serious bacterial blood infection

Mar 2016

Patients with diabetes are almost three times more susceptible to life-threatening blood infections by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, according to a study published today in European Journal of Endocrinology. These findings could indicate a need for greater infection surveillance among long-term diabetes patients.

S. aureus is a bacterium that normally lives harmlessly on the skin. Occasionally it causes infections, which can be fatal if the bacteria enter the bloodstream. The incidence of S. aureus infection has increased in the past 20 years driven by both known and unknown factors. The presence of this bacterium within the blood stream is a serious medical condition, with a 30-day mortality rate of 20-30%. This study found that, diabetes patients have a 2.8 times increased risk of S. aureus blood infection acquired outside of a hospital.

Researchers from Aalborg University Hospital and Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark analysed records of 30,000 people from four different medical registries in Denmark over a twelve year period. The team compared the risk of infection when taking into account different types of diabetes, how long patients had been diagnosed with the condition and other associated complications of living with diabetes.

Compared to patients without diabetes, people with type-1 diabetes were 7.2 times more at risk of S. aureus infection whereas people with type-2 were 2.7 times more at risk. Also more at risk were those suffering from other complications – such as heart and circulation problems, and diabetic ulcers. Kidney problems associated with diabetes were one of the highest risk factors, with a 4.2 times increased risk.

The risk of infection also increased with the number of years a patient had had diabetes; those who had suffered for 10 years or more were 3.8 times more at risk. The extent to which patients had control over their diabetes was also considered, with those with poor management of their diabetes showing a greater risk.

“It has long been a common clinical belief that diabetes increases the risk of S. aureus infection, but until now this has been supported by scant evidence,” says lead author Jesper Smit. “Poor management of diabetes can lead to an impaired immune response. This may be the reason why diabetes patients are at higher risk of infection. Similarly, diabetic patients often suffer associated illnesses –the burden of multiple healthcare problems can also increase susceptibility to infection.”

Following this study, the next steps will be to investigate how diabetes may affect the prognosis of blood infections of S. aureus, and determine how the increased risk factor of diabetes may correspond to disease outcome.

It is important to note the limitations of the study; the medical data available did not allow the researchers to adjust for smoking or body mass index in their sample – two factors which may affect the immune response and subsequent possible infection. It must also be noticed that methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) is rare in Denmark, and the epidemiology of S. aureus may be different in countries where MRSA prevails.


Notes for Editors

The study “Diabetes and risk of community-acquired Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia: A population-based case-control study” was published in the European Journal of Endocrinology on Friday 11 March 2016

For other press enquiries, or copies of the abstract, please contact the Bioscientifica press office

The European Journal of Endocrinology is published by Bioscientifica, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Society for Endocrinology.


Obesity is linked to heavy periods and impaired womb repair
COVID-19 infection may impair fertility in men
Vitamin D levels in the blood can predict future health risks & death
Skin lightening products linked to altered steroid hormone levels
Probiotics may help manage childhood obesity
Ghrelin may be an effective treatment for age-related muscle loss
Evaluating hormone-related targets & risks associated with COVID-19
Thyroid inflammation linked to anxiety disorders
COVID-19 severity is increased in patients with mild obesity
Larger thighs associated with lower risk of heart disease in obesity
Mindfulness helps obese children lose weight
Common anti-inflammatory may increase risk of diabetes
Vitamin B12 deficiency linked to obesity during pregnancy
Impaired liver function during pregnancy may increase risk of childhood obesity
Stress with disrupted body clock increases risk of metabolic disease
New insights into cause and treatments for aggressive form of breast cancer
Age is not a barrier to the benefits of weight-loss surgery
Limiting mealtimes may increase your motivation for exercise
Probiotic supplements may enhance weight loss in obese children
Smoking during pregnancy may damage daughters’ future fertility
Protective effect of breastfeeding on childhood obesity risk linked to leptin gene modification
Men ignore serious health risks of steroid abuse in pursuit of the body beautiful
Sleep problems in teenagers reversed in just one week by limiting screen use
Environmental toxins can impair sexual development and fertility of future generations
Setting fair regulations for top female athletes that have naturally higher testosterone levels
Breastfeeding reduces long-term risk of heart disease in mothers
Obesity risk may be increased by exposure to common environmental chemicals
Mentally tiring work may increase diabetes risk in women
Antioxidants may prevent cognitive impairment in diabetes
Skin inflammation may increase your risk of type-2 diabetes
Debate - Is the gut or the brain more important in regulating appetite and metabolism?
Routine vitamin B12 screening may prevent irreversible nerve damage in type-2 diabetes
Good nutrition could protect children from cognitive difficulties caused by early-life stress
Women more resilient to extreme physical activity than previously reported
Oestrogens in cows’ milk are unlikely to pose a threat to adult health
Diabetic patients are more at risk of death from alcohol, accidents and suicide
Too much vitamin A may increase risk of bone fractures
Vitamin D supplements may promote weight loss in obese children
Vitamin B supplements may protect kidney function in children with diabetes
Bad habits in childhood may lead to an ‘unhealthy’ balance of gut bacteria and increase health risks in later life
Lord Robert Winston cautions that advances in infertility therapies may be hindered by over-regulation
New link identified between inflammation and depression in type-1 diabetes
Walking a tightrope: universal thyroid testing could reduce pregnancy problems in some cases, but interfere with healthy pregnancies in others
Transgender brains are more like their desired gender from an early age
Larger waistlines are linked to higher risk of vitamin D deficiency
Brain stimulation may reduce food cravings as obesity treatment
Minimising exposure to common hormone-disrupting chemicals may reduce obesity rates
Could intermittent fasting diets increase diabetes risk?
Brain development disorders in children linked to common environmental toxin exposures
Children born to mothers with low vitamin D levels may develop autism-like behaviours
Over-the-counter antihistamines linked to impaired fertility in men
Arthritis drug can lower sugar levels in diabetes
Potential new target for reducing osteoporosis risk in men
Successful male infertility treatment does not lower fertility of sons
Warm temperatures can lead to misdiagnosis of diabetes in pregnancy
Guidelines for management of recurrent pituitary tumours recommend new drug as first line treatment
Taking paracetamol during pregnancy may reduce fertility of daughters
Link found between morning sickness, smoking and healthy pregnancies
High fat diet during childhood may increase PCOS risk later in life
Early pregnancy test for cows improves welfare and food production
International collaboration release revised guideline for improved management of Turner syndrome
Treating PCOS with a combination of oral contraceptives and spironolactone does not increase the risk of diabetes or heart disease
Vitamin D supplements could help pain management
Breast cancer risk is more affected by total body fat than abdominal fat
New nanotechnology application for difficult-to-treat cancers
Just six months of frequent exercise improves men’s sperm quality
Consuming more than two soft drinks a day can double risk of diabetes
Age-related scarring in ovaries may explain reproductive decline
Happy cows make more nutritious milk
Third of pregnant women iron deficient; risk thyroid-related pregnancy complications
New recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of Adrenal Incidentalomas published in the European Journal of Endocrinology
Sitting down for long periods when pregnant linked to weight gain and depression
New drug provides safer alternative to conventional IVF treatment
Enzyme potential target for fight against obesity and diabetes
Bursts of high-intensity exercise could help diabetes patients manage low blood sugar levels
Soybean foods may protect menopausal women against osteoporosis
Vitamin D pill a day may improve exercise performance and lower risk of heart disease
Diabetes associated with increased risk of serious bacterial blood infection
Breast cancer risk higher in women with overactive thyroid
Injection of appetite gene may offer a more effective alternative to dieting
Hyperthyroidism could be great cost to countries in disability benefits
Mother’s hormone levels predict child’s ability to do maths