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Child diabetes set to 'double'

28th May 2009

Experts warn the number of under-fives in Europe with type 1 diabetes is set to double by 2020.

diabetes1

Researchers from Queen's University, Belfast and Pecs University, Hungary, say cases in older children will also rise substantially and argue that genetics are not the sole cause, pointing to lifestyle factors.

The study, published in The Lancet, is based on 29,311 cases of type 1 diabetes recorded in 20 European countries between 1989 and 2003.

Researchers found that while overall incidence of type 1 diabetes rose by 3.9% a year, in the under-fives it was 5.4% per year and in the five to nine age group it was 4.3%.

At that rate, they fear 24,400 new cases will be diagnosed in children under 15 in 2020, including 7,142 cases in the under-fives.

The total number of cases of type 1 diabetes among European children under 15 is predicted to rise by 70% from 93,584 in 2005 to 159,767 in 2020.

However, in the UK the rise could be steeper with the total number of cases in the under 15s potentially up by nearly 80% from 18,622 in 2005 to 33,289 in 2020. Among the under fives, they expect to see a 123% rise, from 1,975 in 2005 to 4,402 in 2020.

Researcher Dr Chris Patterson said: "The children of older mums are at slightly increased risk of type 1 diabetes as are children born by Caesarean section and children with rapid weight gain early in life, while breast-fed children are at slightly decreased risk.”

Diabetes UK described the research as "worrying".

 

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