New type 1 diabetes statistics "seem higher than in the past years, based on data from previous reports in the United States," researcher Dana Dabelea, MD, PhD, told reporters in a news conference.
Dabelea, who works at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, cautions that it's hard to directly compare her data with previous studies, due to differences in methodology.
"However," says Dabelea, "we do believe that these rates suggest that there is an increase in the incidence of type 1 diabetes in the United States."
Dabelea's team studied 2,435 U.S. children and teens at 10 sites nationwide who were diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes in 2002 or 2003.
Overall, diabetes annually affects about 24 per 100,000 kids and teens per year, most of whom are whites with type 1 diabetes, according to the report, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Type 1 Diabetes in Children
In a news conference, Dabelea told reporters that type 1 diabetes peaked around puberty, affecting nearly 33 per 100,000 white children aged 10-14 per year.
"There is a pattern with race ethnicity here, with the highest rates in all these age groups in whites, followed by African- Americans, followed by Hispanics, followed by Asian/Pacific Islanders, and American Indians," Dabelea says.
However, she notes that type 1 diabetes does occur in minority groups.
"In this age group -- 10-14 years -- the number of youth developing type 1 diabetes is one in 3,000 white kids, one in 5,000 African-American and Hispanic youth, and less than one in 10,000 Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian youth," says Dabelea.
Type 2 Diabetes in Children
Type 2 diabetes used to be considered an adult disease. But it's becoming more common in children and teens.
Dabelea says she and her colleagues estimate that 3,700 U.S. youths per year are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Among teens aged 15-19, "the number of youth developing type 2 diabetes annually is one in 2,000 American Indian youth, one in 4,300 Asian/Pacific Islanders, and one in 5,000 African-American and Hispanic youth, and ... one in 17,000 white youth," Dabelea says.
"Overall, the rates of type 2 diabetes were not particularly high, though they were high among minority adolescents," Dabelea says.
However, she adds that "nowadays, type 2 diabetes accounts for 15% of all diabetes cases" in white adolescents, who have the lowest type 2 diabetes rate.
"So this rate is low, but it was zero 20 years ago," Dabelea says. She calls the rise in type 2 diabetes in youths "a not-nice" consequence of childhood obesity in the U.S.