Following the national trend of increased diabetes rates among all demographics, the incidence of Type 1 diabetes jumped significantly among elementary-school-age white children in the U.S., according to a new study.
Researchers looked at one of the largest U.S. studies of diabetes in children, called the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth registry, which includes data on over 2 million children and teens living across the country. The results, which were published in the journal Diabetes, revealed that youngsters between ages 5 and 9 had more new cases of Type 1 diabetes than other children in the U.S. Smaller increases were also found among children and teens between 10 and 19 years old. Boys were slightly more affected by the condition than girls.
"This project provides a much larger and more geographically diverse sample than previous studies in the U.S.," Dr. Jean Lawrence, the study's lead author and research scientist of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California department of research and evaluation, said in a news release. The study involved centers in California, Ohio, Colorado, South Carolina and Washington.
Diabetes on the rise
From 2002 to 2009, the rate of Type 1 diabetes spiked from 24.4 per 100,000 children to 27.4 per 100,000 children, according to the study.
Lawrence said the findings delved into a specific demographic that had not been thoroughly examined before.
"The incidence has been rising in many other countries, particularly in Europe, but data from large populations in the U.S. were limited," Lawrence, who is also an active member of the American Diabetes Association, said in the press release.
Facts about type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, previously called juvenile diabetes, is the most common form of the disease diagnosed in children and young adults. The chief concern with the condition is that the body does not produce insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy. About 5 percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.
Although a person can inherit a tendency to develop Type 1 diabetes, most people who have the disease have no family history of blood sugar issues. Lawrence said that more research is needed to understand the full scope of underlying triggers for Type 1 diabetes.
People with Type 1 diabetes must stick to a strict regimen to monitor their diabetes and insulin, using insulin injections and other treatments to prevent complications that sometimes affect the eyes, nerves and kidneys.
Previous research has shown that by 2050, 33 percent of Americans are expected to have diabetes. That means one in three children born in 2000 will develop diabetes if they adopt the nation's common inactive and overeating lifestyle, according to the government report. As a country, we are heavier and more sedentary than ever before. These bad habits cultivate blood sugar problems, among other health issues such as heart disease and obesity.