Time trends in the incidence of type 1 diabetes in Finnish children: a cohort study

Lancet. 2008 May 24;371(9626):1777-82. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(08)60765-5.


Background: Finland has the highest incidence of type 1 diabetes worldwide, reaching 40 per 100,000 people per year in the 1990s. Our aim was to assess the temporal trend in type 1 diabetes incidence since 2000 in Finnish children aged younger than 15 years and to predict the number of cases of type 1 diabetes in the future.

Methods: Children with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes in Finland who were listed on the National Public Health Institute diabetes register, Central Drug Register, and Hospital Discharge Register in 1980-2005 were included in a cohort study. We excluded patients with type 2 diabetes and diabetes occurring secondary to other conditions, such as steroid use, Down's syndrome, and congenital malformations of pancreas.

Findings: 10,737 children-5816 boys and 4921 girls-were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes before 15 years of age during 1980-2005. The average age-standardised incidence was 42.9 per 100,000 per year (95% CI 42.6-44.3) during this period, increasing from 31.4 per 100,000 per year in 1980 to 64.2 per 100,000 per year in 2005. The age-specific rates per 100,000 per year were 31.0, 50.5, and 50.6 at ages 0-4 years, 5-9 years, and 10-14-years, respectively. We noted a significant non-linear component to the time trend (p<0.0003). In children aged 0-4 years, the increase was largest, at 4.7% more affected every year. The overall boy-to-girl ratio of incidence was 1.1; at the age of 13 years, it was 1.7 (1.4-2.0). The predicted cumulative number of new cases with type 1 diabetes before 15 years of age between 2006 and 2020 was about 10 800.

Interpretation: The incidence of type 1 diabetes in Finnish children is increasing even faster than before. The number of new cases diagnosed at or before 14 years of age will double in the next 15 years and the age of onset will be younger (0-4 years).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Registries
  • Sex Distribution
  • Time Factors