Diabetes is on the rise among American youth, and the roadmap ahead for the kids who are getting it doesn't look good.
The SEARCH Diabetes in Youth study revealed that both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are becoming more prevalent among young people, with complications like nerve damage already manifesting in some of the affected. That's also raising concerns about the long-term health consequences of the disease if this trend isn't reversed.
Epidemiologist Giuseppina Imperatore, who works in the Division of Diabetes Translation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said in a statement that worldwide, the rate of youth being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes grows annually by about three percent. The doctor said preliminary data indicates that's also the case with the United States.
"We've known this was happening for a while, but now we have data that tells us just how big a problem it has become," said Giuseppina, who called it a "grave concern" because these kids will live with diabetes their entire life and may develop complications: heart and kidney disease, nerve damage and vision problems.
Among the major findings of the SEARCH study:
– Prevalence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes increased 23 and 21 percent, respectively, among American youth from 2001 to 2009
– Approximately 189,000 Americans younger than 20 have diabetes; about 168,000 have the type 1 variety
– Young diabetics showing signs of or who are at risk of nerve damage are at an increased risk of lower limb amputations
– Young type 2 diabetics are more likely to contract kidney disease later in life
– Some young diabetes (type 1 and 2) have early indications of damage to the nerves that regulate the heart, suggesting an increased risk of heart disease
Researchers also found that the type 2 diabetes was most prevalent among Native American and black populations, although that prevalence rate didn't change over time. The proportion of Latino and white kids with type 2 was lower, but those proportions increased over time.
Latino youth, in fact, have the fastest-growing rates of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, according to NBC Latino.
Photo by Momboleum via Flickr Creative Commons.