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Type 1 Diabetes Up 70% in Kids, Study Finds

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Lipman and her colleagues began collecting data on Philadelphia-area children and their rates of type 1 diabetes in 1985. Of 322,998 children 14 years old and younger living in the city between 2000 and 2004, the researchers said 277 children were newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Overall, this represents a 29 percent increase in the rate of newly diagnosed type 1, according to the study.

When they broke the data down by age groups, they saw a surprising 70 percent increase in the rate of type 1 in children up to age 4.

The other striking finding was that in white and Hispanic children, the incidence of type 1 diabetes jumped dramatically from the 1995 to 1999 study period to the 2000 to 2004 period. The rates of type 1 went up 27 percent in Hispanic kids and 48 percent in white children in that short time period.

The incidence of type 1 in black children actually dropped slightly between the 1995 and 2000 study periods, but overall rose 2.3 percent a year from the 1985 study time period to the 2000 time period. And when the researchers looked at only young black children -- those 5 and younger -- they saw a threefold increase in the incidence of type 1 diabetes between the 1985 and 2000 study periods.

It can be difficult to diagnose type 1 diabetes in the youngest children because they can't always talk about how they're feeling. Extreme thirst and frequent urination are two common signs of untreated type 1 diabetes.

Lipman said that if your child is suddenly extremely fussy, soaking more diapers than normal, can't seem to get enough to drink, the pediatrician should test for diabetes. Likewise, if your child is dehydrated, the pediatrician should check for type 1 diabetes. A child who's 3, 4, or 5 years old -- or even older -- and toilet-trained who suddenly starts having urinary accidents or wetting the bed should be evaluated for type 1 diabetes. Lipman added that the initial evaluation for type 1 consists of checking the urine for sugar, so it's a painless test.

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