A study published on bmj.com indicates, that even though improvements have been made in the last half century for the survival of cystic fibrosis sufferers, females and individuals from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds continue to die younger than males and those more privileged in society. Findings indicate, that since the first report in 1989, the socio-economic and sex differences of the death age from cystic fibrosis continues to this day.
Mainly because of better health care provision, survival in individuals with cystic fibrosis has improved dramatically over the last 50 years, with the average death age rising from 6 months in 1959 to 27 years in 2008.
Approximately 20 years ago a discovery was made that males and individuals from advantaged socio-economical backgrounds had a higher age at death.
Researchers based at the University of Nottingham decided to examine the theory that improved healthcare provision is associated with a decline in these socioeconomic and sex differences by analyzing all registered cystic fibrosis deaths in England and Wales from 1959 to 2008.
The study revealed, that between 1959 and 2008, the average death age increased from age band '0-4 years' to age band '25-29 years' while from the mid 70's onwards the age at death tended to be higher in males than in females.
In the 70's and 80's, males were more likely to die above the average age than females after adjusting for socio-economic status, a trend that continued between 2000 and 2008. Between 1959 and 2000, the average death age was higher in the 'professional and managerial' occupation group compared with the 'routine and manual' group with similar results between 2001 and 2008.
The researchers conclude, that Healthcare workers should be aware that females and individuals of low socio-economic status can expect a shorter life expectancy than males and those of high socio-economic status, suggesting that environmental factors or varying access to healthcare may be responsible for some of these differences.
Experts say in an accompanying editorial:
"The early appearance and persistence of inequalities support the need for early interventions and reinforce the importance of screening for cystic fibrosis in newborns. One obvious target for action is to protect newly diagnosed children from environmental tobacco smoke, while future research should investigate and put into practice the most effective ways to reduce the socioeconomic gradient in health."
Written by Petra Rattue