The incidence of type 1 diabetes in children under 15 years of age is rising again-a nationwide study

Eur J Pediatr. 2023 Oct;182(10):4615-4623. doi: 10.1007/s00431-023-05125-7. Epub 2023 Aug 8.


International incidence rates (IRs) and trends of childhood type 1 diabetes (T1D) vary. Recent data from Ireland and other high incidence countries suggested a stabilisation in IRs of T1D in children aged under 15 years. Our primary objective was to report the IR of T1D in children in Ireland from 2019 to 2021 and evaluate if age, sex and season of diagnosis had changed. Incident cases of T1D in those aged under 15 years were identified prospectively by clinicians nationally and reported to the Irish Childhood Diabetes National Register (ICDNR). Following case verification, capture-recapture methodology was applied, and IRs calculated. Numbers of children including age, sex and season of diagnosis per year were evaluated. There were 1027 cases, 542 males (53%). The direct standardised incidence rates (SIRs) increased by 21% overall and were 31.1, 32.2 and 37.6/100,000/year, respectively, with no significant sex difference. The highest IRs were in the 10-14-year category until 2021, then changed to the 5-9-year category (40% of cases). Whilst autumn and winter remain dominant diagnostic seasons, seasonality differed in 2021 with a greater number presenting in spring.

Conclusion: The incidence of childhood T1D in Ireland is increasing, observed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and shifting to an earlier age at diagnosis for the first time. The pattern of seasonality also appears to have changed. This may reflect an increased severity of diabetes with important implications for healthcare providers.

What is known: • Ireland has a very high incidence of T1D in childhood, which had stabilised following a rapid rise, similar to other high incidence countries. • The incidence rate is consistently highest in older children (10-14 years).

What is new: • Irish IR is no longer stable and has increased again, with the highest incidence occurring in the younger 5-9 age category for the first time. • The seasonality of diagnosis has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic years of 2020-2021.

Keywords: Childhood; Epidemiology; Incidence rate; Type 1 diabetes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1* / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Pandemics