"In the past, type 2 diabetes was extremely rare in youth, but it has become more common in recent years."
Rates of new diagnosed cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are increasing among youth in the United States, according to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, entitled "Incidence Trends of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes among Youths, 2002-2012."
In the United States, 29.1 million people are living with diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes, and about 208,000 people younger than 20 years are living with diagnosed diabetes. This study is the first ever to estimate trends in new diagnosed cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in youth (those under the age of 20), from the five major racial/ethnic groups in the U.S.: non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans.
The SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that from 2002 to 2012, incidence, or the rate of new diagnosed cases of type 1 diabetes in youth increased by about 1.8 percent each year. During the same period, the rate of new diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes increased even more quickly, at 4.8 percent. The study included 11,244 youth ages 0-19 with type 1 diabetes and 2,846 youth ages 10-19 with type 2.
"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," said Giuseppina Imperatore, M.D., Ph.D., epidemiologist in CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
Results of this study reflect the nation's first and only ongoing assessment of trends in type 1 and type 2 diabetes among youth and help identify how the epidemic is changing over time in Americans under the age of 20 years.
"These findings lead to many more questions," said 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 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."
Type 1 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes in young people, is a condition in which the body fails to make insulin. Causes of type 1 diabetes are still unknown. However, disease development is suspected to follow exposure of genetically predisposed people to an "environmental trigger," stimulating an immune attack against the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas.
In type 2 diabetes, the body does not make or use insulin well. In the past, type 2 diabetes was extremely rare in youth, but it has become more common in recent years.
Several NIH-funded studies are directly examining how to delay, prevent, and treat diabetes:
Additionally, CDC's NEXT-D study aims to understand how population-targeted policies affect preventive behaviors and diabetes outcomes and answer questions about quantity and quality of care used, costs, and unintended consequences. For more information on diabetes, including tips on diabetes management and type 2 diabetes prevention, visit http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes.
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