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25 year study: Ireland has one of highest rates of type 1 childhood diabetes in Europe

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Staff Writer | December 4, 2018
Ireland has one of the highest rates of type 1 childhood diabetes in Europe, according to new research.
Ireland diabetes
Europe   Ireland is ranked at No 5 on the table of 22 countries
The 25-year study shows cases of the chronic condition are increasing by more than 3% a year in Europe.

Ireland is ranked at No 5 on the table of 22 countries on the continent after Finland, Sweden, the UK and Norway with a rate just exceeding that of Denmark.

The paper reveals that the Scandinavian countries are well known to have high incidence rates of childhood Type 1 diabetes, but the UK and Ireland are not far behind.

Type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks cells in the pancreas which produce insulin, is usually diagnosed in childhood.

The most recent data from the Irish Childhood Diabetes National Register shows the incidence of Type 1 childhood diabetes at 28.8 cases per 100,000 in 2013 - a slight increase on the previous year.

The overall incidence is highest in the 10 to 14-year-old age category in Ireland with the average age of diagnosis around eight year of age.

There was a sharp increase in the incidence of the chronic childhood disease in this country over the 10-year period between 1997 and 2008 during the Celtic Tiger years but it has now stabilised.

The incidence of the condition in childhood is highest in Europe, especially northern Europe but it is not known what causes the lifelong condition.

Finland has recorded the highest incidence of Type 1 diabetes in the world with a peak of 64.9 cases per 100,000 in 2006 while the lowest incidence is found in Asia.

The new research published in Diabetologia, the Journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, shows that new cases of type 1 diabetes are rising by 3.4% per year across Europe.

The authors say: “The steadily increasing number of children being diagnosed with this chronic disease, which is associated with well-documented, life-long increases in morbidity and mortality, has important implications for those planning and delivering healthcare.

The limited success in identifying either environmental causes or gene-environment interactions that could eventually lead to disease prevention means that efforts must continue to improve quality of care to help reduce long-term complications and diabetes-related deaths.”

The authors warn that if this trend continues, rates of the condition would double in the next 20 years.

The study headed by Professor Chris Patterson, from Queen’s University Belfast, found there is a near-universally increasing incidence of the condition.

Rates of increase were higher in boys than girls in the 10- to 14-year-old age group.

The findings were based on the analysis of over 84,000 children registered in 22 European countries in a 25-year period from 1989 to 2013.

It found incidence rates are still increasing in all childhood age groups in most countries with no clean signs of levelling off.

The authors said the key to improvement is quality of care is the improvement in blood sugar control.

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