Background: The incidence of type 1 diabetes in children younger than 15 years is increasing. Prediction of future incidence of this disease will enable adequate fund allocation for delivery of care to be planned. We aimed to establish 15-year incidence trends for childhood type 1 diabetes in European centres, and thereby predict the future burden of childhood diabetes in Europe.
Methods: 20 population-based EURODIAB registers in 17 countries registered 29 311 new cases of type 1 diabetes, diagnosed in children before their 15th birthday during a 15-year period, 1989-2003. Age-specific log linear rates of increase were estimated in five geographical regions, and used in conjunction with published incidence rates and population projections to predict numbers of new cases throughout Europe in 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2020.
Findings: Ascertainment was better than 90% in most registers. All but two registers showed significant yearly increases in incidence, ranging from 0.6% to 9.3%. The overall annual increase was 3.9% (95% CI 3.6-4.2), and the increases in the age groups 0-4 years, 5-9 years, and 10-14 years were 5.4% (4.8-6.1), 4.3% (3.8-4.8), and 2.9% (2.5-3.3), respectively. The number of new cases in Europe in 2005 is estimated as 15 000, divided between the 0-4 year, 5-9 year, and 10-14 year age-groups in the ratio 24%, 35%, and 41%, respectively. In 2020, the predicted number of new cases is 24 400, with a doubling in numbers in children younger than 5 years and a more even distribution across age-groups than at present (29%, 37%, and 34%, respectively). Prevalence under age 15 years is predicted to rise from 94 000 in 2005, to 160 000 in 2020.
Interpretation: If present trends continue, doubling of new cases of type 1 diabetes in European children younger than 5 years is predicted between 2005 and 2020, and prevalent cases younger than 15 years will rise by 70%. Adequate health-care resources to meet these children's needs should be made available.
Funding: European Community Concerted Action Program.