The rate of childhood type 2 diabetes is 13 times as high among South Asian children as it is among white children

The rate of childhood type 2 diabetes is 13 times as high among South Asian children as it is among white children, reveals the first UK survey of the disease in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

But overall national rates are still low, compared with countries such as Japan, where rates have soared over the past 30 years, the survey shows.

The findings are based on a survey of all 228 diabetic centres in 2000, carried out by the British Society for Paediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes Clinical Trials/Audit Group. http://www.bsped.org.uk/

Data were collected on children up to the age of 16 with a presumed diagnosis of type 2 diabetes as a result of environmental factors, those with maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY)¯caused by defective genes¯and those with "atypical" type 1 diabetes.

Responses were received from 177 centres, which, between them, cared for over 15,000 children with diabetes.

Specialists reported 112 children to the survey, 25 of whom had type 2 diabetes and 20 of whom had MODY.

Children with type 2 diabetes tended to be older when diagnosed¯around the age of 13¯than children with type 1 disease. They were almost always female and overweight or obese. Most had a relative with the disease.

Rates of type 2 diabetes were more than 13 times as high among South Asian children as they were among white children.

Children with MODY were around the age of 11 when diagnosed, significantly less likely to be overweight or obese than those with type 2 disease. And all of them were white.

Based on the figures and population estimates, the researchers calculated that the national rate of type 2 diabetes is 0.21 per 100,000 children. This is low, and much lower than a recent study from Birmingham suggested, indicating that there are large regional variations.

But they caution: "Our survey almost certainly underestimates type 2 diabetes, MODY, and secondary diabetes?"

It is well known that children with type 2 disease don't always have symptoms, and therefore do not come to the notice of doctors, say the authors. And they conclude: "All prevalence estimates based on diagnosed cases will be an underestimate." http://www.bma.org.uk

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