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Thursday 27th October 2016

Childhood diabetes soars

16th March 2007

The number of under-fives with Type 1 diabetes has increased five-fold in the past 20 years, say researchers.

The Bristol University team say that one child in every thousand now has the condition which the researchers blame on environmental and lifestyle factors such as a reduction in the number of women who breastfeed their babies and a lack of immunity to basic germs due to increased levels of cleanliness. The worrying rise in the UK reflects the growing trend across Europe, particularly in children.  The number of under-15s with the condition has doubled, now representing 20,000 British school children.

It is estimated that around 250,000 people in the UK have Type 1 diabetes.  The condition is often referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes and generally develops in childhood having been passed on genetically.  Type 1 diabetes differs from the more common Type 2 diabetes which tends to develop later in life and is generally caused by obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle. 

Bristol University’s Professor Polly Bingley said the increase was too steep to be put down to genetic factors alone and must also be due to changes in our lifestyles and environment. “Either we are being exposed to something new or we now have reduced exposure to something that was previously controlling our immune responses," she explained.

Diabetes UK reacted to the research by saying that the rise in Type 1 diabetes in under-fives was particularly worrying.



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