Type 1 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes diagnosed in children. And it appears that such diagnoses may have increased among one particular group of children.
A new study found that the rate of type 1 diabetes among non-Hispanic white youth rose between 2002 and 2009. There was no increase, however, among the youngest age group of these children.
"We have been seeing more children being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes over the 8 years of this study and these children will require specialized health care as they enter young adulthood," said lead author Jean M. Lawrence, ScD, MPH, MSSA, of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation, in a press release.
Type 1 diabetes was once known as juvenile diabetes because it is mainly diagnosed children. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body can no longer make insulin, a hormone that helps convert sugar into energy. Patients with Type 1 diabetes must inject insulin to survive.
Type 1 diabetes is much less common than type 2 diabetes, which occurs more often in adults and happens when the body no longer responds properly to insulin. When the body becomes resistant to insulin, blood sugar levels rise, which can lead to serious complications like heart disease, nerve damage and kidney damage, among others.
Drawing from a database of more than 2 million children, Dr. Lawrence and team identified 5,842 non-Hispanic white youth under the age of 20 who had been newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
These researchers found that, in 2002, the rate of type 1 diabetes among non-Hispanic white youth was 24.4 cases per 100,000. By 2009, that rate increased to 27.4 cases per 100,000.
Each year, the rate of type 1 diabetes rose by 2.72 percent. For boys, that rate increased by 2.84 percent each year. For girls, the rate increased by 2.57 percent each year.
The researchers also broke down the study subjects into smaller age groups. The rate of type 1 diabetes significantly increased in youth aged 5 to 9 years, 10 to 14 years and 15 to 19 years, but not in those aged 4 years and younger.
This study, which was published Oct. 23 in the journal Diabetes, was based on a much larger study called the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth registry.
"Our findings indicate that the rates of type 1 diabetes in youth are increasing," Dr. Lawrence said. "These trends will continue to be monitored in the U.S. by the SEARCH study to help identify trends in type 1 diabetes in non-Hispanic white youth and youth from other racial and ethnic groups, and to identify potential causes of these increases."
The SEARCH study is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.