The study analyzed the health data of more than 3 million children collected in centers across five states as well as information gathered from American Indian reservations in Arizona and New Mexico.
“These increases that we report should draw the attention of the medical community and the public health community to the seriousness of the public health impact of pediatric diabetes,” said study co-author Dr. Dana Dabelea, a professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health. “Our data informs the clinical practice community of the care that will be needed for the population of children and youth living with diabetes.”
The study found that the prevalence of Type 1 diabetes in 2001 was 1.48 per 1,000, for a total of 4,958 diagnosed cases among 3.3 million youth. By 2009, the rate increased to 1.93 per 1,000, totaling 6,666 cases among 3.4 million children.
For Type 2 diabetes, the study found there were a total of 588 diagnosed cases out of 1.7 million children examined in 2001, for a rate of prevalence of 0.34 per 1,000. In 2009 the prevalence rate rose to 0.46 per 1,000 for a total number of 819 cases.
Increases were found among nearly all racial groups, with the only exception being American Indians, whose rates of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes remained stable throughout the study period. Perhaps surprising was the increase in cases of Type 1 diabetes—traditionally thought to be prevalent among only white youth—among black and Hispanic children.
It is not known what factors may have contributed to the increase, Dabelea said. It was unlikely the rise in diabetes could simply be attributed to a better ability to diagnose the disease, he said.
“For sure that's not the case for Type 1, because it usually presents pretty acutely,” Dabelea said. “It's not that there are many kids out there with undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes.”
For Type 2 diabetes, where the condition can go undetected for years before it is diagnosed in adults, Dabelea explained evidence has shown that there were not a lot of undiagnosed cases in children.
More than 215,000 people younger than age 20 had either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes in the U.S., in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The total estimated cost of diabetes in 2012 was $245 billion, according to the American Diabetes Association, of which, $176 billion was direct medical costs.
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