Count the Children

A ‘pandemic’ in progress

The IDF World Diabetes Atlas (2015), released on November 14, 2015, reports 415 million adults (20 -79) living with diabetes; an increase of 33 million in the 2 years since the 2013 Atlas.

A surveillance imperative

As rates of type 2 diabetes among youth increase, surveillance information is critical to inform health policy makers, track success of prevention and treatment strategies, and increase awareness among health care providers, families and youth.

Mental health issues often accompany, or are amplified by, the onset of diabetes. The interactions can complicate diagnosis of either condition. Front line caregivers acknowledge that training on this aspect is variable, as is access to training and funding for staff, especially social workers.

A surveillance gap

Despite persistent efforts by the International Diabetes Federation and many other organizations worldwide, it remains difficult to assemble, update and compare reliable and reasonably complete data about youth living with diabetes.

Surveillance data for youth living with diabetes are sparse, especially so for those with Type 2. Such data for youth living with mental illness are relatively better but often reported inconsistently with respect to conditions included, gender and age. Surveillance data for youth living with diabetes and comorbidities are even more difficult to find.

IDF (Brussels) World Diabetes Atlas (2015) counts the 20 – 79 age group only, PHAC Diabetes in Canada (2011) includes children but does not distinguish between Type 1 and Type 2, ICES Diabetes Results (2011) includes 20 years and older, OPDN Current Survey (2012/13) provides breakout by Type but no age stratification and is acknowledged as incomplete for Type 2.

“You are correct that more research is needed in the epidemiology of type 2 diabetes in children and young adults. For the 2015 IDF Diabetes Atlas we were not able to find sufficient data on type 2 diabetes in people under the age of 20.”
– email communication from IDF (Brussels), November 19, 2015.

Inability to quantify aside, it is widely agreed that Type 2 diabetes among children and youth is escalating rapidly worldwide. It can no longer be viewed as ‘adult onset diabetes’. Children as young as 8, or younger, are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes among children and youth is estimated by the IDF to be growing by 86,000 per year worldwide. The IDF World Diabetes Atlas (2015) estimates that the number of children worldwide living with Type 1 diabetes has exceeded half a million for the first time.

SFBLF Surveillance Research Project – 2017

[If you have knowledge of studies relevant to this project or can point us at related sources of information, we would be very grateful for your help. Please contact our Research Analyst to share any insights, comments or to seek additional information]

Research Focus:
  1. Describe and assess the status of surveillance data available for youth and young adults living with diabetes including comorbid complications and mental health issues.
  2. Describe related studies in progress or planned.
Research Scope:

Age range:           8 to 25 years of age

Geography:       Primary focus on Canada, Australia, the US, UK and possibly two or three other countries; and with reference to major international sources such as IDF, WHO, UN, relevant national/regional organizations and research   centres and networks

Conditions:        Type1, Type 2 and selected list of complications including most  frequently occurring comorbid mental problems.

Epidemiology:  Disease surveillance including both prevalence and incidence

Expected Outcome:
  1. A professional report describing the current status and presenting comparative analyses of   gaps and inconsistencies in data sets.
  2. Identification of opportunities and needs for improved surveillance
Target Completion Date: August 31, 2017

Ethics Statement

SFBLF is committed to:

* protecting the privacy and confidentiality requirements of all who work with us to help achieve our goals; donors, partners, volunteers as well as participants in any study undertaken by SFBLF;

* securing essential permissions, respecting rights and sensitivities of study participants;

* describing the results obtained from any study undertaken by SFBLF accurately and without bias;

* obtaining prior agreement from partners before sharing study results with third parties where applicable.

 

 

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