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Study Finds Diabetes Rates Surging Among American Youth

DiabetesA new report revealed an alarming increase in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes among American youth for the period 2001 – 2009. The latest study reports were published in the May 7, 2014 child health issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The study analyzed data from about three million children and teens up to the age group of 19 from Colorado, South Carolina, California, Ohio, Washington state and selected Indian reservations based in New Mexico and Arizona.

This is the largest study of childhood diabetes ever done in the US. A considerable increase of this disease among children is an important issue that needs serious attention as all the children diagnosed with this condition will enter adulthood with many years of disease duration. Treatment may prove difficult, and the higher risk of diabetes during reproductive years is likely to increase the prevalence of disease in the next generation.

In the year 2001, 1.48 per 1,000 American children were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. But, by the end of 2009, this figure rose to 1.93 per 1,000. After making necessary adjustments, the overall rise within an 8 year study was calculated to be at 21%. A higher increase was reported in teenagers between 15 and 19 years of age. Even though diabetes tends to affect various ethnic groups, a major increase was noted across both sexes and in white, black, Hispanic and Asian Pacific Islander youth.

Type 2 diabetes recorded a higher increase of 30.5% between 2001 and 2009 in youth in the age group of 10-19 years. However, increases occurred in white, Hispanic, and black youth, whereas no changes were found in Asian Pacific Islander and American Indian youth.

Researchers suggest the need for additional research to determine the exact causes of this increase. While the exact causes of Type 1 diabetes is still unclear, obesity is a common risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, as it seems to promote insulin resistance. In recent years, the overall percentage of diabetes rates has also increased in adults. According to Johns Hopkins and National Institutes of Health Research, the percentage of the population with diabetes increased from 6.2 to 9.9 (during 1988- 2010).

Diabetes is a serious disease that increases the risks for numerous health complications namely kidney disease, high blood pressure and stroke. The disease can also cause diabetic neuropathy that could lead to nerve damage affecting a person’s feet, legs and eyes. Moreover, it can also impact certain other bodily functions.

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