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Study finds big increases in diabetes cases among youth

Monday May 5, 2014
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In a study that included data from more than 3 million children and adolescents from diverse geographic regions of the U.S., researchers found that the prevalence of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes increased significantly between 2001 and 2009.

Dana Dabelea, MD, PhD, of the Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora, Colo., and Elizabeth J. Mayer-Davis, PhD, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and colleagues with the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study, examined whether the overall prevalence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes among U.S. youth has changed in recent years, and whether it changed by sex, age and race/ethnicity.

Despite concern about an “epidemic,” data on trends regarding diabetes have been limited, the authors wrote in background information for the study, which will be published in the May 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a theme issue on child health, and presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies’ annual conference.

“Understanding changes in prevalence according to population subgroups is important to inform clinicians about care that will be needed for the pediatric population living with diabetes and may provide direction for other studies designed to determine the causes of the observed changes,” the authors wrote.

The analysis included cases of physician-diagnosed type 1 diabetes in youths ages 0 through 19 and type 2 diabetes in youths ages 10 through 19 years in 2001 and 2009.

The study population came from five centers located in California, Colorado, Ohio, South Carolina and Washington, as well as data from selected American Indian reservations in Arizona and New Mexico.

The prevalence of type 1 diabetes among a population of 3.3 million youths was 1.48 per 1,000 in 2001 and increased to 1.93 per 1,000 among 3.4 million in 2009. After statistical adjustment, the authors wrote, the increase was 21% over the eight-year period.

The greatest prevalence increase was observed in youths ages 15 through 19. Increases were observed in both sexes and in white, black, Hispanic and Asian Pacific Islander youth.

“Historically, type l diabetes has been considered a disease that affects primarily white youth; however, our findings highlight the increasing burden of type l diabetes experienced by youth of minority racial/ethnic groups as well,” the authors wrote.

The overall prevalence of type 2 diabetes for youth ages 10 to 19 increased by an estimated 30.5% between 2001 and 2009 (among a population of 1.7 million and 1.8 million youth, respectively).

Increases occurred in white, Hispanic and black youth, whereas no changes were found in Asian Pacific Islander and American Indian youth. A significant increase was seen in both sexes and all age groups.

“The increases in prevalence reported herein are important because such youth with diabetes will enter adulthood with several years of disease duration, difficulty in treatment, an increased risk of early complications and increased frequency of diabetes during reproductive years, which may further increase diabetes in the next generation,” the researchers wrote. “Further studies are required to determine the causes of these increases.”

The study is titled “Prevalence of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Among Children and Adolescents From 2001 to 2009,” and can be found at http://jama.jamanetwork.com/journal.aspx.


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