, Volume 41, Issue 8, pp 904-910

Increasing prevalence of Type II diabetes in American Indian children

Summary

Until recently, Type II diabetes was considered rare in children. The disease is, however, increasing among children in populations with high rates of Type II diabetes in adults. The prevalence of Type II diabetes was determined in 5274 Pima Indian children between 1967 and 1996 in three 10-year time periods, for age groups 5–9, 10–14 and 15–19 years. Diabetes was diagnosed using World Health Organisation criteria, based on an oral glucose tolerance test. The prevalence of diabetes increased over time in children aged 10 years and over: in boys from 0 % in 1967–1976 to 1.4 % in 1987–1996 in the 10–14 year old age group, and from 2.43 % to 3.78 % for age group 15–19 and in girls from 0.72 % in 1967–1976 to 2.88 % in 1987–1996 in the 10–14 year old age group, and from 2.73 % to 5.31 % for age group 15–19 years. Along with the increase in the prevalence of Type II diabetes (p < 0.0001), there was an increase in weight (calculated as percentage of relative weight, p < 0.0001), and in frequency of exposure to diabetes in utero (p < 0.0001). The increasing weight and increasing frequency of exposure to diabetes in utero accounted for most of the increase in diabetes prevalence in Pima Indian children over the past 30 years. Type II diabetes is now a common disease in American Indian children aged 10 or more years and has increased dramatically over time, along with increasing weight. A vicious cycle related to an increase in the frequency of exposure to diabetes in utero appears to be an important feature of this epidemic. [Diabetologia (1998) 41: 904–910]

Received: 30 January 1998 and in revised form: 18 April 1998