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UK 5th highest in world for child type 1 diabetes

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

2nd January 2013 - According to a new international league table the UK has the world’s fifth highest rate of diagnosis for type 1 diabetes in children aged up to 14. However, scientists are unsure why the figure is so high.

The league table, compiled by Diabetes UK and based on estimates from the International Diabetes Federation, shows that 24.5 per 100,000 children aged 0 to 14 in the UK are diagnosed with the condition every year. Of all the countries with data, only Finland, Sweden, Saudi Arabia and Norway have higher rates.

The rate in the UK is over double that in France (12.2) and Italy (12.1).

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes (unlike type 2) is not linked to obesity or lifestyle and scientists don't fully understand why there is such wide variation worldwide, however, genetics and the environment are thought to play a role.

The type 1 diabetes charity Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) says the most common age for developing type 1 diabetes is between 10 and 14 but in recent years the greatest increase in incidence has been in the under-fives.

There is nothing that children with type 1, or their parents, could have done to prevent them developing the condition.

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes can lead to serious illness and Diabetes UK says a quarter of the 2,000 children a year who develop the condition are only diagnosed once they are already seriously ill. Barbara Young, chief executive of the charity says in a press statement: "We do not fully understand why more children in the UK are developing type 1 diabetes than almost anywhere else in the world. But the fact that the rate is so high here in the UK means it is especially important that parents know the symptoms."

The charity sums up the main symptoms by using 4 T's:

Toilet - is your child going to the toilet a lot or wetting the bed when they've previously been dry or, in babies, is their nappy heavier?

Thirsty - is your child really thirsty and unable to quench their thirst?

Tired - is your child feeling more tired than usual and having trouble getting out of bed?

Thinner - is your child losing weight or looking thinner than usual?

If a child has any of these symptoms the charity says they need to see a doctor urgently and be tested for type 1 diabetes with a quick finger prick blood test.

Sarah Johnson, Director of Policy and Communications at JDRF, joins Diabetes UK in calling for greater awareness of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes and points out "that the UK Government's investment in medical research to understand the causes of, and to help cure, type 1 diabetes is also woefully inadequate to face the challenge of type 1 diabetes, and its impact on our children, now and in the future."

Reviewed on January 02, 2013

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