Context: Despite a disturbing trend of increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) in childhood, little is known about the epidemiology of childhood type 2 DM, especially in the Taiwanese population.
Objective: To study the rate and risk factors for childhood type 2 DM based on a nationwide screening program in Taiwan.
Design, setting, and participants: Screening in 1999 for type 2 DM using urine and blood testing and confirmed by follow-up telephone survey among schoolchildren aged 6 to 18 years in Taiwan, followed by a nested case-control study conducted in 2002 comparing 137 children with type 2 DM with 1,000 randomly selected children without diabetes chosen to represent the age and sex distribution of the whole student population.
Main outcome measures: Rate and identification of risk factors associated with childhood type 2 DM.
Results: The rate of newly identified diabetes was 9.0 per 100,000 for boys and 15.3 per 100,000 for girls. Follow-up at 3 years revealed that, of 253 children with newly diagnosed diabetes, 24 (9.5%) had type 1 DM, 137 (54.2%) had type 2 DM, and 22 (8.7%) had secondary diabetes. Compared with children aged 6 to 9 years, the odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of type 2 DM increased to 6.59 (3.23-13.4) for those aged 13 to 15 years and to 4.59 (2.07-10.2) for those aged 16 to 18 years. The OR (95% CI) of type 2 DM in children with a body mass index in the 95th percentile or higher (obesity) was 18.8 (9.22-38.5) compared with those with a body mass index in less than the 50th percentile. Other factors significantly associated with type 2 DM were hypercholesterolemia (OR, 1.80; 95% CI, 1.04-3.23), blood pressure greater than the 85th percentile (OR, 1.70; 95% CI, 1.07-2.70), and positive family history of diabetes (OR, 3.95; 95% CI, 2.01-7.78).
Conclusions: Our mass screening program showed that type 2 DM is the leading cause of childhood DM in Taiwan. Obesity is a major risk factor for the development of type 2 DM in children.