All types of diabetes are on the rise in children and teenagers.
A study in Europe has shown that type 1 diabetes is increasing by about 3% per year. It's increasing even more in younger children. For children under age 5, the increase is at about 6%. Some scientists think that the rise in very young children might relate to young children weighing more these days, on average, than ever before.
Before the 1990s, it was rare for U.S. pediatric diabetes centers to see young people with type 2 diabetes. But by 1994, in urban areas of the USA, children with type 2 diabetes represented up to 16% of the new cases of diabetes in children, and by 1999, that figure was as high as 45% in some areas. This increase in type 2 diabetes has been seen in other countries as well. It is estimated, for example, that there is a four-fold rise in the incidence of type 2 diabetes in 6-15 year-olds in Japan.
The exact number of youth and young adults with double diabetes is unknown. It is still relatively uncommon but is expected to increase as the frequency of overweight and obesity is reaching epidemic proportions. We found out about double diabetes through some important NIH sponsored trials in pediatric diabetes.
The SEARCH trial is being conducted to determine the incidence (cases per year) and prevalence (total cases at any one time) of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in children and youth. While most children had either type 1 or type 2, for many children in the SEARCH trial the type of diabetes could not be determined. These children continued to produce insulin as measured by c-peptide and had antibodies against the beta cells.
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