"Obviously it's something in the environment that has changed the threshold for this disease. Where we see the fastest growing rates of type 1 diabetes is in areas of rapid modernization, like in Eastern Europe, around the fall of the Iron Curtain," said Insel.
Lipman and her colleagues began collecting data on Philadelphia-area children and their rates of type 1 diabetes in 1985. Of 322,998 children 14 years old and younger living in the city between 2000 and 2004, the researchers said 277 children were newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Overall, this represents a 29 percent increase in the rate of newly diagnosed type 1, according to the study.
When they broke the data down by age groups, they saw a surprising 70 percent increase in the rate of type 1 in children up to age 4.
The other striking finding was that in white and Hispanic children, the incidence of type 1 diabetes jumped dramatically from the 1995 to 1999 study period to the 2000 to 2004 period. The rates of type 1 went up 27 percent in Hispanic kids and 48 percent in white children in that short time period.
The incidence of type 1 in black children actually dropped slightly between the 1995 and 2000 study periods, but overall rose 2.3 percent a year from the 1985 study time period to the 2000 time period. And when the researchers looked at only young black children -- those 5 and younger -- they saw a threefold increase in the incidence of type 1 diabetes between the 1985 and 2000 study periods.
It can be difficult to diagnose type 1 diabetes in the youngest children because they can't always talk about how they're feeling. Extreme thirst and frequent urination are two common signs of untreated type 1 diabetes.
Lipman said that if your child is suddenly extremely fussy
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