The incidence of new cases of Type 1 diabetes in children is rising at around 3% a year, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
There were over 6,000 new cases in children aged 0-14 years between 2000 and 2006, which equates to more than two new cases each day.
Katherine Faulks of the Institute's Cardiovascular, Diabetes and Kidney Unit said, 'The rate increased significantly from 19 children per 100,000 population in 2000 to 23 per 100,000 population in 2006.'
The report, Incidence of Type 1 diabetes in Australia 2000-2006: first results, shows that the rate of new cases of Type 1 diabetes was highest in children aged 10-14 years at 29 per 100,000 population.
'Despite popular perception, Type 1 diabetes does not only develop in childhood-it can arise at any age. But the disease develops at a lower rate throughout adulthood', Ms Faulks said.
While childhood rates rose between 2000 and 2006, the rates for people aged 15-24 years remained fairly stable, while for people aged 25 or over, the rates fell.
'This is consistent with other studies showing that the incidence is increasing among children but not among young adults', Ms Faulks said.
There were almost 9,000 new cases of Type 1 diabetes in people aged 15 years or over between 2000 and 2006, with males over the age of 15 almost twice as likely as females of the same age to develop the disease.
Ms Faulks said earlier analyses by the AIHW have shown that Australia's average annual rate of new cases of Type 1 diabetes among children is high compared with other countries.
Type 1 diabetes is caused in most cases by autoimmune destruction of the cells of the pancreas that produce insulin, which is needed for the body to take up glucose from the blood to be used as an energy source . People with Type 1 diabetes need insulin replacement in order to survive.
While it is thought that a combination of genetic and environmental factors cause the disease, the exact factors are unclear and research into the causes continues.