Concern about increase in diabetes among children aged under five

by Barbara Hewitt on January 28, 2013

Concern about increase in diabetes among children aged under five

A new study showing that the incidence of type 1 diabetes in very young children has increased by 70% in an American city is a symptom of what is happening around the world, according to researchers. The research from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing shows that in the past 20 years the rate of type 1 diabetes in children aged under five has risen rapidly in the city of Philadelphia.

This increase needs to be addressed immediately, said head researcher, nursing professor Terri Lipman. ‘These young children are at the highest risk for death because of often delayed diagnosis,’ she said, adding that the rapidly rising risk of diabetes in black children aged up to four years old is of particular concern given the marked racial disparities that have been identified in diabetes outcomes and treatment in this population.

The research draws on a unique data set from the Philadelphia Paediatric Diabetes Registry, which Dr. Lipman has maintained since 1985. The registry was a member of the World Health Organization’s Diabetes Mondiale study, a consortium of 150 centres in 70 countries. It is the only such US registry still active and includes data amassed from large populations in three racial groups; white, black, and Hispanic.

In the 20 years of the Philadelphia Paediatric Diabetes Registry, 935 cases of type 1 diabetes have been identified in children although there is no obvious reason why. ‘The incidence of type 1 diabetes in Philadelphia children has increased at an average yearly rate of 1.5%. However, the incidence had been relatively stable over the first 15 years and has risen most markedly since 2000. This upward trend adds to the evidence of an increasing incidence of diabetes in the United States and worldwide,’ explained Dr. Lipman.

Racial and ethnic data demonstrated the incidence of type 1 diabetes in white children had historically been very stable, with approximately 13 children diagnosed per 100,000 annually – however, there was a 48% increase between 2000 and 2004. Similarly, Hispanic children had previously been very stable at 15.5 diagnosed children per 100,000 annually but had a 27% increase between 2000 and 2004.

Quote from : “Over 400,000 children around the world have diabetes with 70,000 new cases diagnosed every year, according to new figures released by the International Diabetes Federation.”

‘While there are a number of hypotheses related to the causes of the increases in type 1 diabetes, no risk factors have been confirmed. It is critical to continue to investigate risk factors that may be associated with the increased incidence of type 1 diabetes overall, and the marked rise in the incidence in young children,’ added Lipman.

For the first time, researchers included cases of type 2 diabetes in the Philadelphia registry. They found that the incidence of type 1 diabetes is 18 times higher than type 2 diabetes in white children, but only 1.6 times higher in black children, indicating a high incidence of type 2 diabetes in black children. Similar to other studies, the data from Dr. Lipman and her colleagues showed the incidence of type 2 diabetes was higher in females than males, highest in black youth, and lowest in non-Hispanic white youth.

‘Type 1 diabetes continues to be the greatest risk for children in Philadelphia, three times greater than type 2 diabetes. Improving and continuing research and data collection will help clarify the origins and epidemiology of these alarming worldwide trends in paediatric diabetes,’ Lipman concluded.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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