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Health Team

Study Finds Type 1 Diabetes More Likely in White Children

Posted June 26, 2007 4:43 p.m. EDT
Updated June 26, 2007 7:21 p.m. EDT

— A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that race may play a big role in which kids get the type of diabetes that is most common in children.

Almost three years ago, 13-year-old Sierra Horecky learned she had Type 1 diabetes. Her body can't make its own insulin.

“At my school, there's only two kids with diabetes, and I'm one of them,” Horecky said, but there are thousands of kids like her nationwide.

In fact, about 15,000 kids are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes each year in the United States. About 3,700 develop type 2 annually.

“We found that type 1 diabetes is very, very common in all racial ethnic groups, but especially white kids,” said the study leader, Dr. Dana Dabelea of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

The nationwide study of more than 2,400 newly diagnosed children in 2002 and 2003 found that kids with type 1 diabetes were most likely to be white and to diagnosed when they were between 10 and 14 years old.

Type 2 was much less common than type 1, but it once almost never occurred in children.

“Type 2 used to be called adult-onset diabetes and did not used to occur in children. However, we are now seeing type 2 diabetes at younger and younger ages,” Dabelea said.

Type 2 is associated with being overweight and is most common among American Indian, African American and Hispanic teens aged 15 to 19.

Cutting calories, eating healthy and regular exercise can help prevent type 2 diabetes, but not type 1, for which there is no known cause.

Before the diagnosis, Horecky’s diabetes had put her in a coma. She and her parents did not know the warning signs.

Now, they do. The signals include “frequent urination, drinking a lot of water and weight loss,” she said.

She said she wants other children to know they're diabetic before it causes other serious health problems.