Correlating the global increase in type 1 diabetes incidence across age groups with national economic prosperity: A systematic review

World J Diabetes. 2019 Dec 15;10(12):560-580. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v10.i12.560.


Background: The global epidemiology of type 1 diabetes (T1D) is not yet well known, as no precise data are available from many countries. T1D is, however, characterized by an important variation in incidences among countries and a dramatic increase of these incidences during the last decades, predominantly in younger children. In the United States and Europe, the increase has been associated with the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. In our previous systematic review, geographical variation of incidence was correlated with socio-economic factors.

Aim: To investigate variation in the incidence of T1D in age categories and search to what extent these variations correlated with the GDP per capita.

Methods: A systematic review was performed to retrieve information about the global incidence of T1D among those younger than 14 years of age. The study was carried out according to the PRISMA recommendations. For the analysis, the incidence was organized in the periods: 1975-1999 and 2000-2017. We searched the incidence of T1D in the age-groups 0-4, 5-9 and 10-14. We compared the incidences in countries for which information was available for the two periods. We obtained the GDP from the World Bank. We analysed the relationship between the incidence of T1D with the GDP in countries reporting data at the national level.

Results: We retrieved information for 84 out of 194 countries around the world. We found a wide geographic variation in the incidence of T1D and a worldwide increase during the two periods. The largest contribution to this increase was observed in the youngest group of children with T1D, with a relative increase of almost double when comparing the two periods (P value = 2.5 × e-5). Twenty-six countries had information on the incidence of T1D at the national level for the two periods. There was a positive correlation between GDP and the incidence of T1D in both periods (Spearman correlation = 0.52 from 1975-1999 and Spearman correlation = 0.53 from 2000-2017).

Conclusion: The incidence increase was higher in the youngest group (0-4 years of age), and the highest incidences of T1D were found in wealthier countries.

Keywords: Age categories; Children; Gross domestic product per capita; Incidence; Type 1 diabetes.