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Germany: Type 1, type 2 diabetes in kids "significantly" higher in past 30 yrs

July 20, 2023, Indo and NY: Study: More diabetes in children and adolescents The number of new cases of diabetes in children and adolescents in Germany has risen significantly over the past 20 years.
The number of new cases of diabetes in children and adolescents in Germany has risen significantly over the past 20 years. There is an increase in both type 1 and type 2.

This is what a team led by Anna Stahl-Pehe from the German Diabetes Center (DDZ) in Düsseldorf concludes from their study, which is based on figures from North Rhine-Westphalia.

The tendency is certainly similar throughout Germany, says her DDZ colleague and co-author Joachim Rosenbauer.

With an increase of almost five percent (4.9) per year in the annual rate of new cases, this is most noticeable in the long-term trend with type 2 diabetes, which is often associated with an unhealthy lifestyle and obesity.

For type 1, the calculated annual increase in the rate of new cases is two percent, but the number of cases is much higher here. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease that destroys cells that produce the hormone insulin. What promotes diabetes? Overweight and obesity are important factors in the development of type 2 diabetes, the authors of the study affirm. They want to present their data at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Hamburg at the beginning of October. However, one in four children with type 2 diabetes has not been diagnosed with obesity, so other factors must play a role. These are to be researched further, said Rosenbauer.

The researchers base their conclusions on data from the diabetes register of the most populous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Clinical surveys on rare diseases in children and adolescents, data from annual practice surveys and nationwide diabetes patient documentation are also brought together there, explains Rosenbauer.

According to the study, from 2002 to 2020, almost 15,000 children and adolescents under the age of 20 (including 8165 boys) were newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in NRW. The average incidence rate for type 1 during the study period was 22.9 cases per 100,000 people per year. During the study period, there were 670 people affected by type 2 diabetes in the analyzed age group of 10 to 19 years. The average incidence rate here was 2.0 per 100,000 people per year.

Environmental influences as a factor

While the increase in the rate of new cases of type 1 in children up to four years of age remained low (plus 0.5 percent annually), the growth rates in the other age groups were significantly higher - at plus 2.7 percent annually, the strongest among 10 to 14 year olds. The increase in type 2 diabetes was also highest in this age group, but was significantly higher at 6.7 percent annually.

The researchers suspect that the rising rate of new cases of type 1 diabetes has to do with changing environmental influences - including diet, lifestyle, viral infections, reduced biological diversity - or with a complex interaction of such and genetic factors. Despite intensive research over the past decades, clear external circumstances have not yet been identified. Diabetes mellitus, often simply referred to as "diabetes", is a pathological disorder of the sugar metabolism which, if left untreated, can result in serious secondary diseases

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