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New research revealed that the prevalence of teen diabetes might be higher than initially thought. The fact is alarming because, in terms of public health, the incidence of the disease in children and adolescence should be close to zero.
Until now, the percentage of people aged 10 to 19 years that had diabetes was estimated to be at 0.34 %.
The recent analysis published in the Journal of American Medical Association shows that the prevalence raises to 0.8 %, almost double than the previous estimation.
The factors that influence the apparition of diabetes are the lack of exercise, unhealthy eating, overweight and family history.
The study was commissioned by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease.
The researchers used a number of 2,606 clinical cases of adolescents selected randomly, with ages between 10 and 19 years. The participants had been earlier included in a ten-year national survey on health and nutrition. Their glucose level had been tested in the morning after fasting.
Out of the group, 62 teens had diabetes, and 512 other had prediabetes. The prevalence of diabetes was 0.8%, and the prevalence of prediabetes was 18%.
Almost a third of the adolescents that had been diagnosed were unaware that they had the disease.
The scientists also observed that the prevalences of diabetes and prediabetes were consistent and did not change over time.
The implications of the study may be very important for public health programs. Teen diabetes is associated with an increased risk of complications and several other health issues.
The researchers state that, out of the teens that did not know about their condition a large proportion consisted of Hispanic and non-Hispanic black adolescents.
Moreover, the prevalence of prediabetes in Hispanic and non-Hispanic black teens was also found to be higher, as 21 percent and 23 percent respectively. Prediabetes was also more common in males than in females.
Prediabetes is a medical condition involving a high level of sugar in the blood. Even though their present situation is not yet qualified as a disease, people with prediabetes have an increased risk of developing diabetes as they age.
The National Diabetes Education Program had released a statistic showing that 208,000 people in the US had been diagnosed with the blood-sugar disease before they reached the age of 20.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adds an estimation of 29.1 million people in the US having diabetes, with some 8 million not knowing what they have the medical condition.
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