In Finland, rates of type 1 diabetes have finally leveled off, according to new research.
In the year 2005, Finland saw the highest prevalence of type 1 diabetes (T1D) ever, with an incidence of 64.2 cases per 100,000 for children under 15. Researchers wanted to know if incidence rates are still climbing, so they looked at data for the years 2006-2011.
T1D is an autoimmune disease, unlike type II diabetes. In T1D, autoantibodies destroy insulin-producing beta cells, so the body can’t produce enough insulin to handle glucose in the blood.
In this study, researchers found that it appears that the incidence of type 1 diabetes has finally leveled off. In 2006, there was yet again a slight increase to 64.9 cases per 100,000 for children under 15, but that incidence fell slightly in the years 2007-2010. In 2011, the incidence increased again, but remained lower than the 2006 incidence rates (64.3 cases per 100,000).
The researchers speculate that vitamin D food fortification policies may have finally curtailed the rise in type 1 diabetes. They speculate:
“The encouraging observation in this study is that the incidence of T1D in Finnish children younger than 15 years has ceased to increase after a period of accelerated increase. This may be due to changes in the environment, such as vitamin D intake. The amount of vitamin D recommended for supplementation in infants had been reduced to one-tenth since the 1950s, during which time the incidence of T1D increased 5-fold. The fortification of dairy products with vitamin D after 2003 may have contributed to the leveling off of T1D incidence.”
E-News Medical. Study examines incidence rates of type l diabetes in Finnish children. http://www.news-medical.net/news/20130724/Study-examines-incidence-rates-of-type-l-diabetes-in-Finnish-children.aspx, 2013.