A new alarming report has revealed the number of children in the U.S diagnosed with diabetes rose significantly between 2001 and 2009.
The report shows that prevalence of type 1 diabetes, which usually develops during childhood and adolescence, among children and teenagers increased by a fifth (21%). However during the same 8-year period, rates of childhood type 2 diabetes, which is traditionally referred to as ‘adult-onset’ diabetes, soared by nearly a third (30%).
Both boys and girls, and nearly all racial groups, were affected by these spikes, Dana Dabelea, the associate dean for faculty at the Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora, said, adding that the reasons behind the rises are not entirely clear.
“While we do not completely understand the reasons for this increase, since the causes of type 1 diabetes are still unclear, it is likely that something has changed in our environment, both in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, causing more youth to develop the disease, maybe at increasingly younger ages,” she explained.
Commenting on the possible reasons for the increase in type 2 diabetes, Dabelea said: “Most likely is the obesity epidemic, but also the long-term effects of diabetes and obesity during pregnancy which have also increased over time.”
For the research, Dabelea and colleagues collected incidence statistics on more than 3 million children and adolescents from 5 health centres across the U.S.
They found that in 2001, just under 5,000 people aged 19 years and younger had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. By 2009, that number rose to almost 6,700, an increase of 21%. Meanwhile, annual cases of type 2 diabetes among children and teens between the ages of 10 and 19 years jumped from 588 in 2001 to 819 in 2008, a rise of 30.5%.
The findings, which were presented May 3 at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada, indicate that more than 20,000 young people across America are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, while around 167,000 suffer with type 1 diabetes.