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The prevalence of Type 1 diabetes in children aged 0–14 years is high by international standards and is projected to rise according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Prevalence is the number or proportion of cases of an illness present in a population at a given time.

‘We estimate that by 2013, 153 in every 100,000 children in Australia in this age group will have Type 1 diabetes, which is up by around 10% from the rate in 2008 of 138 children per 100,000,’ said Anne-Marie Waters of the AIHW’s Cardiovascular, Diabetes and Kidney Unit.

‘This means that by 2013 over 6,400 children in Australia could have Type 1 diabetes compared with an estimated 5,700 in 2008.’

Currently Australia is ranked about seventh highest among the 30 OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) nations for which data are available.

‘We’re ranked about the same as the USA, while Canada, the United Kingdom and some of the Scandinavian nations are worse than us,’ Ms Waters said.

The report, Prevalence of Type 1 diabetes in Australian children, 2008, is based on information from Australia’s National Diabetes Register. The register covers Australians who began using insulin for diabetes since 1999.

This is the first time the register has been used to estimate the prevalence of Type 1 diabetes in children aged 0–14 years in Australia.

There was no significant difference in the prevalence of Type 1 diabetes between boys and girls in 2008 but it did increase with age.

Slightly more than 250 in every 100,000 young Australians aged 10–14 years had Type 1 diabetes in 2008. This compares to fewer than 30 cases per 100,000 children aged 0–4 years.

Type 1 diabetes results from the body’s inability to produce insulin. It can occur at any age, but mostly arises in children and young adults.

People with Type 1 diabetes need insulin replacement to survive. If not effectively treated, Type 1 diabetes can lead to various long-term health complications, including kidney disease, heart disease and stroke.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 17 June 2010

Further information about the report: Ms Anne-Marie Waters, AIHW, tel. (02) 6249 5020, mob.  0418 271 395

Further information about Type 1 diabetes: Associate Professor Maria Craig, University of New South Wales, tel. 0417 233 064, Associate Professor Jeff Flack, University of New South Wales, tel. 02 9722 8350 

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer 02 6244 1032

Full report: Prevalence of Type 1 diabetes in Australian children, 2008