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Keywords:

  • epidemiology;
  • global incidence;
  • international registries;
  • type 1 diabetes;
  • type 2 diabetes

Abstract:  Type 1 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in most part of the world, although reliable data are still unavailable in several countries. Wide variations exist between the incidence rates of different populations, incidence is lowest in China and Venezuela (0.1 per 100 000 per year) and highest in Finland and Sardinia (37 per 100 000 per year). In most populations girls and boys are equally affected. In general, the incidence increases with age, the incidence peak is at puberty. After the pubertal years, the incidence rate significantly drops in young women, but remains relatively high in young adult males up to the age 29–35 years. Prospective national and large international registries (DIAMOND and EURODIAB) demonstrated an increasing trend in incidence in most regions of the world over the last few decades and increases seem to be the highest in the youngest age group. Analytical epidemiological studies have identified environmental risk factors operating early in life which might have contributed to the increasing trend in incidence. These include enteroviral infections in pregnant women, older maternal age (39–42 years), preeclampsia, cesarean section delivery, increased birthweight, early introduction of cow’s milk proteins and an increased rate of postnatal growth (weight and height). Optimal vitamin D supplementation during early life has been shown to be protective. Some of these environmental risk factors such as viruses may initiate autoimmunity toward the beta cell, other exposures may put on overload on the already affected beta cell and thus accelerate the disease process.