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Prevalence of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes “Surging” among US Youth, Shows New Study


From 2001 to 2017, the estimated prevalence of youth-onset T1D and T2D increased approximately 45% and 95%, respectively, according to a new study.

The estimated prevalence of type 1 diabetes (T1D) and type 2 diabetes (T2D) increased significantly among children and adolescents in the US between 2001 and 2017, according to a new study published in JAMA.

The findings showed that over the 16-year study period, the estimated prevalence of persons aged ≤19 years with T1D and T2D increased by 45.1% and 95.3%, respectively.

“Rising rates of diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, which is preventable, has the potential to create a cascade of poor health outcomes,” said co-author Giuseppina Imperatore, MD, PhD, chief, Division of Diabetes Translation, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in an agency statement. “Compared to people who develop diabetes in adulthood, youth are more likely to develop diabetes complications at an earlier age and are at higher risk of premature death.”

Imperatore and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional observational study of individuals younger than 20 years to estimate the overall prevalence of T1D and T2D and by race and ethnicity, age, and sex.

Researchers compared data from 2001, 2009, and 2017 across 6 US regions, including California, Colorado, Ohio, South Carolina, Washington, and select American Indian reservations in Arizona and New Mexico. For each year, approximately 3.5 million youths were included.

Notable Findings

The estimated T1D prevalence per 1000 youths for participants aged ≤19 years increased significantly from 1.48 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.44-1.52) in 2001 to 2.15 (95% CI, 2.10-2.20) in 2017. The absolute increases in the estimated prevalence of T1D were greatest among Black and White participants, noted researchers.

The estimated prevalence of T2D per 1000 youths for individuals aged 10-19 years also significantly increased from 0.34 (95% CI, 0.31-0.37) in 2001 to 0.67 (95% CI, 0.63-0.70) in 2017, according to the study. Absolute increases were disproportionate among racial/ethnic minorities, particularly Black and Hispanic participants, who had absolute increases per 1,000 youths of 0.85 (95% CI, 0.74-0.97) and 0.57 (95% CI, 0.51-0.64), respectively, compared with 0.05 (95% CI, 0.03-0.07) for White youths.

The estimated prevalence of T2D per 1000 youths for individuals aged 10-19 years also significantly increased from 0.34 (95% CI, 0.31-0.37) in 2001 to 0.67 (95% CI, 0.63-0.70) in 2017.

“Type 2 diabetes remained more common among racial and ethnic minority youths, with the absolute increases in estimated type 2 diabetes prevalence being greatest among Black youth and Hispanic youth,” stated researchers.

Investigators noted several possible factors driving the increase in T2D prevalence.

“Increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes could be caused by rising rates of childhood obesity, in utero exposure to maternal obesity and diabetes, or increased diabetes screenings,” said lead author Jean Lawrence, ScD, MPH, MSSA, program director, Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health (NIH), in the press release. “The impact of diabetes on youth is concerning as it has the potential to negatively impact these youth as they age and could be an early indicator of the health of future generations.”

The results come from the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study, funded by the CDC and the NIH.

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