Study reveals newly diagnosed type 1 and type 2 diabetes is on a rising trend among American youth

The report, Incidence Trends of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes among Youths, 2002–2012, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, reveals a rising rate of type 1 and type 2 diabetes diagnosis among the population of below 20 years in the United States.

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More than 29 million people in the US are living with diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes and of this, around 200,000 individuals below 20 years of age are diagnosed as diabetic.

Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study has revealed that the new diagnosed cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes increased annually by about 1.8% and 4.8%, respectively, during the period 2002–2012.

This first ever study comprised of 11,244 type 1 diabetes participants in the age group of 0–19 and 2,846 from the type 2 category in the age group of 10–19, across five major ethnic groups of the U.S.–Hispanic, non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans.

Because of the early age of onset and longer diabetes duration, youth are at risk for developing diabetes related complications at a younger age. This profoundly lessens their quality of life, shortens their life expectancy, and increases health care costs”

Giuseppina Imperatore, M.D., Ph.D., epidemiologist in CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

The research is a sign of the first and only ongoing evaluation of diabetes type 1 and type 2 trends among the youth and assist in identifying the role of the epidemic in changing times in young Americans.

Key findings from the report

  • Age group of 0–19:

During the period 2003–2012, there was an annual increase in the newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes cases across all racial groups, with a 2.2% increase in males and 1.4% in females. The Hispanic group showed an increase of 4.2%, while non-Hispanic blacks showed a 2.2% increase. The lowest increase of 1.2% was noticed in non-Hispanic whites.

  • Age group of 10–19:

The new diagnosed type 2 diabetes cases also showed a rising trend—a 3.1% increase among Hispanics, 8.5% among Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, 6.3% in non-Hispanic blacks, and 0.6%, the lowest among non-Hispanic whites. Native Americans reported the biggest increase at 8.9%; however, these rates are not generalizable as the participants in the study are not representatives of all Native American youth across the US. There was a rise of 6.2% in females compared with males, who reported a 3.7% increase.

The differences among racial and ethnic groups and between genders raise many questions. We need to understand why the increase in rates of diabetes development varies so greatly and is so concentrated in specific racial and ethnic groups.”

Barbara Linder, M.D., Ph.D., senior advisor for childhood diabetes research at NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

The condition in which the body fails to produce insulin, type 1, is the most common type of diabetes among youth and the disease causes are yet to be known. Disease is suspected to involve the exposure of  genetically predisposed individuals to an environmental trigger, provoking an immune attack against the beta cells of the pancreas involved in producing insulin.

Type 2 diabetes, where the body does not make or use insulin well, was rarely diagnosed in young patientsin the past, however, this has become common in recent times.

NIH has funded a number of studies to examine the prevention, treatment and delay of diabetes.

This includes the TrialNet program, where very year, relatives of type 1 Diabetes patients are screened fortype 1 diabetes, and the program also educates on prevention for those diagnosed with the highest risk.

The study undertaken by the Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) reveals the factors which may increase development of type 1 diabetes.

The Treatment Options for Type 2 Diabetes in Adolescents and Youth (TODAY) study is probing on the techniques to treat type 2 diabetes among youth and how to avoid complications.

CDC’s NEXT-D study is targeted at how population-targeted policies influence preventive behaviors, the result of the disease, and responding to uncertainties on the quality and quantity of the care and costs.

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