Childhood diabetes has doubled in the 12 years to 1994, pediatricians at a Cincinnati, Ohio hospital have reported. Further evidence has also emerged that it is a lifestyle condition, and not just a genetic one, as it was once believed to be.
The Cincinnati doctors have noticed that cases have increased from 50 a year to 100, while the percentage of these that are non insulin dependent has also increased, from around 3 per cent in 1991 to 17 per cent in 1994. This rate was higher among children in the 10 to 19 year age group, with 33 per cent suffering non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM).
The findings of the Children's Hospital Medical Center are significant because it is the only pediatric hospital in the world that serves a metropolitan area of 1.7 million people.
Of the NIDDM cases, 92 per cent were in obese children, and 85 per cent had at least one relative who was also a sufferer. NIDDM had previously been seen mainly in black girls, but it's also been showing up in white girls recently.
Pediatricians believe the most likely cause is obesity, but they have not ruled out viruses, toxins or diet.
Researchers from the University of Florida say that cases of insulin dependent diabetes have increased four fold in the last 30 years. They argue, however, that it is too simplistic to put the blame solely on bottle feeding, as some studies have done. Instead, the net should be widened to include other chemical, plant and animal substances that could trigger diabetes.
See WDDTY 5.9 for our special report on diabetes.
!AThe Lancet, May 25, 1996.