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Diabetes Rates in Children Soar, Study Finds

Update Date: May 05, 2014 10:28 AM EDT

The latest numbers revealed that children's rates for type 1 and type 2 diabetes have soared dramatically in eight years. The latest research found that spikes in the number of cases were evident across most racial groups and all sexes.

"While we do not completely understand the reasons for this increase, since the causes of type 1 diabetes are still unclear, it is likely that something has changed in our environment, both in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, causing more youth to develop the disease, maybe at increasingly younger ages," lead researcher Dr. Dana Dabelea, the associate dean for faculty at the Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora, said according to Philly.

Dr. Robin S. Goland, a co-director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, added, according to the New York Times, "In my career, Type 1 diabetes was a rare disease in children, and Type 2 disease didn't exist. And I'm not that old."

The researchers examined data on over three million young children and teens gathered from centers in California, Colorado, Ohio, South Carolina, Washington state and some Native American reservations located in Arizona and New Mexico. For type 1 diabetes, the team examined all available cases of adolescents aged 19 or younger. For type 2 diabetes, the researchers restricted the age group to only include children between the ages of 10 and 19.

From 2001 to 2009, the incidence rate of type 1 diabetes soared from a little under 5,000 to nearly 6,700. This jump represented a 21 percent spike in cases. The researchers noted that children between zero to four-years-old and American Indian children did not experience an increase in the number of type 1 diabetes cases. Within the same time frame, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes increased from 588 to 819, which is a 30.5 percent increase. The only groups that did not experience a rise in type 2 diabetes cases were American Indians and Asian Pacific Islanders.

"The overall prevalence of diabetes is going to grow progressively, because we've done so much better in keeping these people alive, they are going to live longer. We also know they are going to continue to incur costs for complications," Dr. Robert Ratner, chief medical and scientific officer for the American Diabetes Association, said. "There is a need to pay more attention to the prevention of diabetes, because we are not going to be able to care for all of these people."

The study was presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies yearly meeting in Vancouver, Canada and will be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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