Ed Damiano checks the receiver for the Navigator glucose monitor worn by his 12 year-old son David (rear), who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 11 months old,
Credits: REUTERS/Brian Snyder
The American Diabetes Association's 72nd meeting also heard that complications such as nerve damage are already emerging in young people, raising concerns about the long-term health consequences for this and subsequent generations if the trend is not reversed.
"Type 2, once known as 'adult onset' diabetes, is increasingly being diagnosed in young people," said Dr. Giuseppina Imperatore of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. "We've known this was happening for a while, but now we have data that tell us just how big a problem it has become.
Additionally, worldwide, the number of youth who are being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes has been growing at an annual rate of about 3 per cent."
He says the findings are of grave concern because these youth will live with diabetes most of their lives and may develop diabetes-related complications, such as heart and kidney disease, nerve damage and vision problems, at a much younger age.
"In fact, preliminary data suggest that complications may already be developing in this generation," Imperatore said.
The SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study says that there are nearly 189,000 Americans under the age of 20 with diabetes; of those, 168,000 had Type 1 and more than 19,000 had Type 2.
"This research reinforces the need to ensure that young people with diabetes are getting more exercise, making healthier food choices and maintaining healthier weights," said Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, a professor at the University of North Carolina and former president of the American Diabetes Association.
According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, there are more than nine million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes with more than 20 people being newly diagnosed with the disease every hour of every day.