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How Common Is Diabetes in Kids?

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  • Written By: Caitlin Shih
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2016
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Diabetes in kids is not especially common, but many argue that it is increasing around the world. In the United States, approximately 0.2% of children under 20-years-old have diabetes. While many researchers conclude that the disease tends to have higher prevalence in countries that are less economically developed, this does not necessarily correlate directly to the frequency of juvenile diabetes for these countries for many reasons such as limitations in research. According to the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF), the region of Southeast Asia has the highest prevalence of type 1 diabetes in kids aged 0 to 14 years, with the Western Pacific having the lowest prevalence.

The American Diabetes Association, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other organizations, produces a yearly National Diabetes Fact Sheet. They estimate that the amount of individuals younger than 20 that have been diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes amounts to approximately 0.26% of the whole age group, but they have not been able to adequately provide an estimate for undiagnosed cases of diabetes for this age group. In addition, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation concludes that Canada has the sixth highest rate in the world of diabetes in kids 14 or younger.

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The IDF estimates that, globally, approximately 76,000 children age 15 years or younger newly develop type 1 diabetes a year, with a 3% annual rate of increase. There is significantly less comprehensive research available regarding the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in kids around the world, although the IDF affirms that it is generally on an increase in all countries throughout all economic classes. The foundation estimates approximately 18.3 thousand newly diagnosed cases per year for Southeast Asia, one of the most extensively populated regions in the world. Europe comes close, having an estimated 17.1 thousand newly diagnosed cases per year. The region of North America and the Caribbean, primarily including those living in Mexico, the United States, and Canada, has the third highest incidence rate, averaging approximately 14.7 thousand newly diagnosed cases per year.

The foundation estimates the Middle East and North Africa have approximately 9.1 thousand newly diagnosed cases per year. The group attributes aging populations combined with socioeconomic and cultural changes to the countries in this region having the highest prevalence of diabetes. Africa is estimated to have approximately 6.1 thousand newly diagnosed cases per year, but health research in this region tends to be primarily focused on infectious disease, limiting the amount of research available for diabetes.

South and Central America are concluded to have about 5.8 thousand new cases of diabetes in kids per year. The IDF estimates the Western Pacific region to have approximately 4.9 thousand newly diagnosed cases per year. The foundation has included that research is limited for this region, as a large portion of the health policy is preoccupied with infectious disease and many of these areas lack a government that is conscientious and informed of the severity of diabetes.

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