Diabetes in Youth

group of children

Of the estimated 26.9 million people with diagnosed diabetes in 2018, about 210,000 were children and adolescents younger than age 20 years.12 The increasing frequency of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in young people is a growing clinical and public health concern. Since 2000, CDC and the National Institutes of Health have funded the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Studyexternal icon to learn more about type 1 and type 2 diabetes and diabetes-related complications among children and young adults in the United States.

Findings from the SEARCH study indicate that the incidence of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes increased from 2002 to 2015. For type 1 diabetes, the annual percentage change (APC) was 1.9%, with 14,638 children and adolescents younger than age 20 years newly diagnosed.

Although the number of new cases of type 1 diabetes was highest among whites, the APC in the number of new cases during 2002–2015 was higher for all other racial and ethnic groups. The sharpest increase was among Asians or Pacific Islanders (4.4%), Hispanics (4.0%), and blacks (2.7%).19 Figure 7 shows the incidence of type 1 diabetes among children and adolescents younger than age 20 years by racial or ethnic group during 2014–2015. Incidence of type 1 diabetes was higher among whites than among racial and ethnic minority groups.

Figure 7. Incidence of Type 1 Diabetes per 100,000 Persons Among Children and Adolescents Younger Than Age 20 Years, by Racial or Ethnic Group, United States, 2014–2015

This horizontal bar graph shows the incidence of type 1 diabetes among US children and adolescents younger than age 20 years by racial or ethnic group from 2014 to 2015. The vertical Y-axis lists 5 racial and ethnic groups in the United States. The horizontal X-axis presents rates per 100,000 persons from 0 to 30 in increments of 5. Incidence was higher among whites at 27.3, followed by blacks at 20.8, Hispanics at 16.3, Asians or Pacific Islanders at 9.4, and American Indians at 6.2.

Note: American Indian youth who participated in the SEARCH study are not representative of all American Indian youth in the United States. Therefore, these rates cannot be generalized to all American Indian youth nationwide.
Data source: SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study.

Similarly, for type 2 diabetes, the highest APC was seen among Asians or Pacific Islanders (7.7%), Hispanics (6.5%), and blacks (6.0%) during 2002–2015. During this period, 3,916 children and adolescents younger than age 20 years were newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, with an overall APC of 4.8% per year.19

Figure 8 shows the incidence of type 2 diabetes among those younger than age 20 years by racial and ethnic group during 2014–2015. Incidence of type 2 diabetes was significantly higher among racial and ethnic minority groups than among whites.

Figure 8. Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes per 100,000 Persons Among Children and Adolescents Aged 10–19 Years, by Racial or Ethnic Group, United States, 2014–2015

This horizontal bar graph shows the incidence of type 2 diabetes among US children and adolescents aged 10 to 19 years by racial or ethnic group from 2014 to 2015. The vertical Y-axis lists 5 racial and ethnic groups in the United States. The horizontal X-axis presents rates per 100,000 persons from 0 to 40 in increments of 5. Incidence was significantly higher among racial and ethnic minority groups compared to whites. Rates were 37.8 for blacks, 32.8 for American Indians, 20.9 for Hispanics, 11.9 for Asians or Pacific Islanders, and 4.5 for whites.

Note: American Indian youth who participated in the SEARCH study are not representative of all American Indian youth in the United States. Therefore, these rates cannot be generalized to all American Indian youth nationwide.
Data source: SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study.

Findings from the SEARCH study indicate that the prevalence of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes increased among young people during 2001–2009. In 2001, the prevalence was 1.48 cases per 1,000 young people for type 1 diabetes and 0.34 cases per 1,000 for type 2 diabetes. In 2009, the prevalence increased to 2.55 per 1,000 young people for type 1 diabetes and 0.46 cases per 1,000 for type 2 diabetes.20

The SEARCH study also found that deaths from diabetes among all US children and adolescents aged 1 to 19 years decreased, from 265 during 2000–2002 to 228 during 2012–2014. Although diabetes deaths among children and adolescents decreased over time, the death rate among non-Hispanic black children and adolescents was about twice that of non-Hispanic white children and adolescents during 2012–2014.

Additional research to identify health care factors and behaviors that contribute to diabetes deaths among children and adolescents may help public health officials understand the reasons for differences by race or ethnicity. This information could help them target future prevention efforts more effectively.21

Page last reviewed: February 8, 2021