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Kids' Diabetes Rates Up Dramatically in 8 Years

Increase in type 1 diabetes especially baffling to experts

continued...

For type 2, the researchers looked at a group of almost 2 million children. In 2001, 588 children and teens had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. By 2009, 819 kids and teens had type 2, a jump of 30.5 percent, the researchers found. The only ethnic groups that didn't see an increase in type 2 were American Indians and Asian Pacific Islanders.

"Historically, type 1 diabetes has been considered a disease that affects primarily white youth; however, our findings highlight the increasing burden of type 1 diabetes experienced by youth of minority racial/ethnic groups as well," the authors wrote.

The increase for both types of diabetes was seen among boys and girls and among whites, blacks and Hispanics. The biggest increase in both types of diabetes was among those 15 through 19 years of age, the researchers noted.

Of the study, Dr. Robert Ratner, chief medical and scientific officer for the American Diabetes Association, said, "The overall prevalence of diabetes is going to grow progressively, because we've done so much better in keeping these people alive, they are going to live longer. We also know they are going to continue to incur costs for complications."

Diabetes will be a major health care problem over the next two decades, he predicted. "There is a need to pay more attention to the prevention of diabetes, because we are not going to be able to care for all of these people," Ratner said.

Ratner was perplexed by the increase in type 1 diabetes. "Whether it's an interaction between genetics and environment that's increasing autoimmunity -- we really don't know," he said. "It's a major question that needs to be answered."

Dr. Luis Gonzalez-Mendoza, director of pediatric endocrinology at Miami Children's Hospital, was also concerned by the increase in type 1 diabetes.

"Type 1 diabetes seems to be on the rise among teens, almost double what it used to be," he said. "There is something that is acting as a trigger for the immune system to go crazy, because type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder."

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