The findings appear in Pediatrics' October edition.
"We estimate that 154,369 youth had physician-diagnosed diabetes in 2001 in the United States," write the researchers.
They included Jean M. Lawrence, ScD, MPH. She is a research scientist with Kaiser Permanente's research & evaluation department in Pasadena, Calif.
"The overall prevalence of diabetes is 1.84 per 1,000 [children]," Lawrence tells WebMD.
To put that figure in perspective, she says there are "about 120 per 1,000 kids in the United States who have asthma, and a little over 1.2 per 1,000 that have cancer."
About the Study
The study covered about 3.5 million youths aged 0-19 living in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Ohio, South Carolina, and Washington in 2001.
The researchers identified 6,379 kids and teens diagnosed with diabetes.
Diabetes was rarer in kids who were less than 10 years old, compared with older children.
Less than one in 1,000 children aged 0-9 had diabetes, compared with nearly three in 1,000 youths aged 10-19, the study shows.
Non-Hispanic whites made up the majority of kids with diabetes.
"What we found is that in children less than 10 years of age, non-Hispanic white children are most affected by diabetes, more affected by diabetes than youth in any of the other racial and ethnic groups," Lawrence says.
"If you look at the older kids, the 10- to 19-year-olds, the highest burden of diabetes is observed again among non-Hispanic white children as well as African-American kids," with about one in 315 having some form of diabetes.
"The numbers go down from there," Lawrence says.
Among children aged 10-19 years, "one out of 500 Hispanic and American-Indian children has diabetes, whereas about one in 746 Asian Pacific Islanders have diabetes," Lawrence says.
Most Common Diabetes Type
The new study shows that "type 2 diabetes is extremely rare under 10 years of age," Lawrence says.
Among youths aged 10-19 with diabetes, the percentage with type 2 diabetes ranged from 6% for non-Hispanic whites to 76% for American-Indians.
There are "significant differences in the burden of type 2 diabetes among racial and ethnic groups, as there is in type 1 diabetes," Lawrence says.