Type 1 Diabetes Is on the Rise in Youth
The prevalence of type 1 diabetes in people under age 20 years rose by 21% between 2001 and 2009, according to the latest SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
In Type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks cells in the pancreas that make insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar levels. While children who got the disease have historically been Caucasian, the new report found the prevalence also has increased among black and Hispanic youths. The greatest increase was in 15- to 19-year-olds.
Richard Insel, chief scientific officer of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), said that the study “highlights the crucial need for research into ways to better manage and, ultimately, prevent and cure this life-threatening disease.” He added, “The data confirm what JDRF and many public health experts have long suspected: The incidence of type 1 diabetes is on the rise in youth across all ethnic groups in the United States, and the disease is now having a more significant impact on black and Hispanic youth populations, which previously had relatively low rates of the disease.”
Insel also said that the increased prevalence of type 1 diabetes among a more diverse population of children and teens is also of concern since “minority youth have historically experienced poor glycemic control, which is known to be associated with diabetic complications.” He believes that the broadening impact of this disease is among the many reasons that JDRF is committed to “delivering therapies that help keep people with type 1 diabetes healthy and safe now while we work towards a cure.” He thinks that the study underlines the need for continued support of programs like the federal Special Diabetes Program, which funds basic research into the causes and mechanisms of type 1 diabetes, as well as efforts to cure, treat, and prevent it.
“Type 1 diabetes creates a serious health and financial burden for people with the disease and their families,” Insel concluded. “The day-to-day need to measure blood-sugar levels, take insulin, and watch every bite of food is particularly daunting for children and teens, and it is a burden that JDRF is committed to ending through our sustained leadership in type 1 diabetes research.”