The number of new cases of type 1 diabetes has gone up by 3.4% across Europe in children, according to new figures.
The report contrasts with other recent data suggesting a slowing of this increase in some countries, while other reports have described variations in incidence between the ages of 4-6.
This new report was coordinated by Professor Chris Patterson, Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast, UK.
Prof Patterson says greater improvements need to be made to environmental causes of type 1 diabetes, as well as gene-environment interactions that could eventually lead to disease progression.
He added that, “Efforts must continue to improve quality of care to help reduce long-term complications and diabetes-related deaths.”
The 25-year study looked at incidence rates across 22 European countries among 84,000 children. The findings showed there were increases in all but two health centres among children up to age 14.
“Despite current efforts to prevent type 1 diabetes, or at least delay its onset, we must prepare for increasing numbers of children across Europe being affected.
“Improved insulin delivery methods should help get better control of blood sugar levels and so reduce diabetes-related complications and deaths, but dedicated staff will be needed to educate, train, and motivate these children if they are to get the best results.”
In the UK, about 10% of those with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. Prof Patterson’s report suggests that if current trends continues then the condition could well double across Europe in 20 years.
Despite the findings, Patterson said the research is not conclusive and more “monitoring” needs to be carried out. However, any rises in incidence will have significant implications for health services in terms of planning and delivering healthcare.
The findings have been published online in Diabetologia.