Rates of Diabetes Among Teens Are Higher Than Previously Reported

Most young people unaware they have diabetes, prediabetes
Most young people unaware they have diabetes, prediabetes

HealthDay News — More American teens have diabetes or prediabetes than previously thought, and many don't know they have the condition, according to a research letter published in the July 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Andy Menke, PhD, of Social & Scientific Systems in Silver Spring, Md, and colleagues used data from the 2005 to 2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey on 2,606 adolescents ages 12 to 19, who were randomly selected for fasting blood glucose tests.

Of 62 teens with diabetes, 28.5% didn't know it. Prevalence of prediabetes was 17.7%, and more common in boys. Among the teens with diabetes, 4.6% of whites had not been diagnosed versus 49.9% of blacks and 39.5% of Hispanics. One prior study estimated the prevalence of diabetes in teens at about 0.34%, but the current study shows it's double that – 0.8%.

"These findings may have important public health implications because diabetes in youth is associated with early onset of risk factors and complications," the authors write.

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