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More Children Are Developing Type 1 Diabetes

Child who has been diagnosed with diabetesWe have talked a lot about diabetes on this blog, but most reports have been focused on the scary rate of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in the country. Now a new study suggests that the rate of type 1 diabetes (T1D) has risen significantly amongst children in elementary school.

Between 2002 and 2009, this diabetes clinical study identified nearly 6,000 cases of T1D in children and teens under the age of 19. The majority of these cases had been diagnosed in kids between the ages of 5 and 9. Other key insights from this study included:

  • Researchers didn’t find a significant increase amongst children younger than 4
  • More boys than girls were diagnosed with diabetes

The Disease Formerly Known as Juvenile Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes (also referred to as juvenile diabetes) was traditionally the predominant form of diabetes diagnosed in childhood. The illness is actually an autoimmune disease caused by the immune systems misguided assault on the beta cells of the pancreas. Once the beta cells are destroyed, the body is no longer able to produce insulin– the hormone required to convert food into energy.

“The incidence has been rising in many other countries, particularly in Europe, but data from large populations in the U.S. were limited,” explained Jean Lawrence, the study’s lead author and researcher at Kaiser Permanente Southern California.

Plenty more research will be needed before we fully understand why more children seem to be developing the symptoms of type 1 diabetes. These latest results were based on findings taken from the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth registry, one of the largest U.S. studies of diabetes in children ever conducted.

What Do the Numbers Show?

Family keeping their kids healthyOver the course of the study, the rate of T1D went from 24.4 per 100,000 children to 27.4 per 100,000. The biggest jump occurred amongst children between the ages of 5 and 9, but there were also smaller jumps found in children and teens between 10 and 19 years old.

“This project provides a much larger and more geographically diverse sample than previous studies in the U.S.,” explained Lawrence. Test were run at centers in the following states:

  • Colorado
  • California
  • South Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Washington

The American Diabetes Association estimates that type 1 diabetes only accounts for 5 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Since there is no cure, diabetics require specialized and ongoing medical care.

The effective treatment of diabetes includes regular insulin injections combined with a number of lifestyle changes such as a diet that is customized for the illness. Managing this disease is a full time job, but there could be an answer in the near future.

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