Type 1 Diabetes Facts and Statistics: What You Need to Know

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 1.6 million Americans have type 1 diabetes. More new cases of type 1 diabetes are diagnosed annually in the United States than previously, with an estimated 64,000 people diagnosed each year.

Type 1 diabetes is sometimes referred to as juvenile or childhood-onset diabetes. However, it affects both children and adults, and people can be diagnosed at any age. This article will highlight important type 1 diabetes facts and statistics you should know.

Child with type 1 diabetes learns to test blood sugar

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Type 1 Diabetes Overview

Diabetes occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) levels are higher than normal. There are different types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which your pancreas stops producing insulin (a hormone that helps manage blood sugar levels).

How Common Is Type 1 Diabetes?

The CDC’s 2020 National Diabetes Statistics Report showed a nearly 30% increase in type 1 diabetes diagnoses in the United States, with youth cases growing most steeply among diverse populations. As of 2019, around 244,000 youth and 1.6 million adults 20 years and older had type 1 diabetes.

With roughly 64,000 people being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes each year, type 1 accounts for about 5% of all diabetes cases in adults in the United States.

Type 1 Diabetes by Ethnicity

Globally, type 1 diabetes is most common in Scandinavian populations, as well as in Sardinia and Kuwait, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is much less common in Asian and Latin American populations.

Among youth in the United States, the prevalence of type 1 diabetes is highest in non-Hispanic White youths and lowest in Asian, Pacific Islander, and Navajo youths.

Between 2002 and 2015, rates of type 1 diabetes increased among non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific Islander youths, while the increase among non-Hispanic White youths was much lower.

By 2050, it’s estimated that about half of youths with type 1 diabetes will be of minority race/ethnic groups. Additionally, type 1 diabetes rates seem to be steadily increasing by about 3% annually in high-income countries.

Type 1 Diabetes by Age and Gender

From 2001 to 2015, youths 10–14 years old had the highest incidence of new-onset type 1 diabetes. Overall, children and adolescents 0–19 years old had a new-onset rate of 34.3 per 100,000 persons, while adults age 20–64 had a rate of 18.6 per 100,000 persons. 

Type 1 diabetes affects all sexes equally.

Causes of Type 1 Diabetes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown, however risk factors for type 1 diabetes include:

  • Having an immediate family member with type 1 diabetes
  • Having specific genes
  • Having other autoimmune conditions
  • Certain environmental triggers, such as a living in a cold climate
  • Some viruses
  • Early diet (for example, people who were breastfed and those who first ate solid foods at later ages were less likely to develop type 1 diabetes)

What Are the Mortality Rates for Type 1 Diabetes?

Life expectancy for people with type 1 diabetes has improved dramatically since the discovery of insulin in the 1920s. Nevertheless, today people with type 1 diabetes may remain at increased risk of death, especially when microalbuminuria (low levels of urinary albumin excretion) is present. Having high blood pressure or smoking may also increase risks.

On the other hand, individuals with type 1 diabetes without microalbuminuria and other complications can minimize this risk and expect to live a normal life span.

Females with type 1 diabetes consistently have higher mortality rates than males. The mortality rate for all diabetes-related complications is higher in Black people with type 1 diabetes than White people with type 1 diabetes.

Screening and Early Detection Type 1 Diabetes

Population screening programs for type 1 diabetes look for specific genetic markers or autoantibodies. These blood tests have provided important information about disease progression and recommendations for the timing of screening in clinical practice.

For example, beta cell immunity (antibodies that attack the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas) may be identified several years before the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes develop.

For the most part, screening programs have been aimed at testing relatives of people with type 1 diabetes. However, roughly 90% of people who develop type 1 diabetes do not have a family history.

In addition to genetic and autoantibody testing, glucose tolerance tests are often performed to screen for type 1 diabetes.

The benefit most consistently reported across early screening studies is the prevention of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which can be life-threatening.

Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented or cured. However, the earlier a diagnosis is made, the earlier a person can receive a diagnosis and appropriate treatment, resulting in better health outcomes.

One concern in early screening for type 1 diabetes is that the natural course of development of this type of diabetes is still not clearly understood. Continued research on risk factors, such as genetics, environment, age, and ethnicity, is needed to improve the scope of screening, as well as to help better identify those who would most benefit from early screening.

Summary

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the body no longer produces insulin. Roughly 5% of the adult U.S. population has type 1 diabetes. Risk factors for type 1 diabetes can be genetic or environmental.

Mortality rates have improved over the last century, though if complications are present, the risk for a shorter life span is increased. Advancements have improved the ability for early screening for type 1 diabetes, though more research is needed to help identify the best candidates for early testing.

15 Sources
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