Incidence and Risk Factors of Type 1 Diabetes: Implications for the Emergency Department
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is one of the most common endocrine diseases in children. A chronic autoimmune disease, about 65,000 children worldwide develop T1D each year. (1) It accounts for about 5% of all diabetes cases. There is no known way to prevent it, and the only effective treatment requires frequent blood glucose monitoring and the use of insulin to stay alive. (2)
The incidence of T1D in the United States, Europe, and Australia has been increasing for the last four decades. According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the incidence among European children aged one to five years old is increasing at 5.4% annually—much higher than other age groups. Similar trends are reported in the United States. At the current rate, the number of T1D cases will double during this decade. (3) (Interestingly, allergic reactions, food allergies, and other autoimmune diseases are also on the rise.)
There are two striking trends connected to the T1D epidemic:
1. The disease is occurring much earlier in life.
2. The disease is striking in people previously considered to be at low or moderate genetic risk.
TID is caused by a combination of genetic and unknown environmental factors. Identifying the specific triggers is part of current research—what is causing these immunoregulation defects? The answer isn’t yet known, but the drastic increase worldwide rules out genetics alone as the cause.
Research has focused on several hypotheses regarding T1D epidemiology. Investigators have considered infection, early childhood diet, vitamin D, environmental pollutants, increased height v Continue reading