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Diabetes in Young Americans on the Rise

NEW YORK (360Dx) – A new study has found that the rate of newly diagnosed diabetics in American youths is rising.

In the study, called The Search for Diabetes in Youth and published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers reported rises in the rates of new diagnoses for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in youths under the age of 20, though they said that the cause of the increases is unclear.

The study — which the National Institutes of Health said is the first-ever to estimate trends in new diagnosed cases of types 1 and 2 diabetes for the age group from across the five major racial and ethnic groups in the US — included more than 11,00 youths with type 1 diabetes, and nearly 3,000 youths with type 2 diabetes, between 2002 and 2012. It looked at trends among non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, and Native-Americans.

However, the rates for Native-Americans cannot be generalized to all Native-American youth, due to the low number of participants in that ethnic group who were part of the study.

Blood samples for the study were analyzed for the diabetes autoantibodies glutamic acid decarboxylase 65; insulinoma-associated 2 molecule; and zinc transporter.

Among the key findings is that between 2002 and 2012, the rate of new diagnosed cases of type 1 diabetes increased about 1.8 percent each year, while the rate of new diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes rose 4.8 percent.

For type 1 diabetes, the rate rose more quickly annually among males (2.2 percent each year) than among females (1.4 percent). Also, Hispanics had the largest annual increase, 4.2 percent, followed by non-Hispanic blacks (2.2 percent).

"The increase in the incidence of type 1 diabetes suggests a growing disease burden that will not be shared equally," the study authors wrote. "Studies have shown substantial differences among racial and ethnic groups in the methods of treatment and in clinical outcomes, as well as barriers associated with processes and quality of care. These findings highlight the critical need to identify approaches to reduce disparities among racial and ethnic groups."

For type 2 diabetes, females had a higher rate of new diagnosed cases (6.2 percent) than males (3.7 percent). Native-Americans saw the biggest spike in new diagnosed cases (8.9 percent), followed by Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders (8.5 percent).

The cause for the increases in both types of diabetes in youths, however, remains elusive.

"These findings lead to many more questions," said Barbara Linder, one of the study authors, in a statement. She is senior advisor for childhood diabetes research at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. "The differences among racial and ethnic groups and between genders raise many questions. We need to understand why the increase in rates of diabetes development varies so greatly and is so concentrated in specific racial and ethnic group."

Participants in the study came from five clinical centers in California, Colorado, Ohio, South Carolina, and Washington. Some Native-American participants were from Arizona and New Mexico.

The study is funded by NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.