Diabetes continues to rise in children at an alarming rate

Press release: Results from the Childhood Diabetes Registry and Fatty Liver Screening

The Hong Kong Childhood Diabetes Registry was established in 2016. Youth Diabetes Action (YDA) has been fully supporting 12 paediatric departments from the Hospital Authority to assist doctors in tracking the long-term impact of diabetes. This research has given the doctors involved the opportunity to explore and implement innovative clinical care to ultimately provide better care for children with diabetes.

Diabetes on the rise

Diabetes currently affects over 537 million adults worldwide, with a further 1.1 million under the age of 20 with Type 1 diabetes. In Hong Kong, about 10% of the population (approximately 700,000 people) suffer from diabetes and on average an additional seven children per month are diagnosed with diabetes. When diabetes goes undetected or is inadequately treated, people with diabetes are at higher risk of serious and life-threatening complications, such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure. These complications result in reduced quality of life and higher healthcare costs.

The Hong Kong Childhood Diabetes Registry (HKCDR)

Over the past five years, HKCDR has published its first two medical reports showing that the incidences of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes have continued to rise over the past two decades. More significantly, the number of children diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes have almost doubled – a total of 391 in 2008-2017 compared with 198 in 1997-2007 – which is worrisome. This follows the current trend worldwide with the number of people living with diabetes expected to rise to 643 million by 2030. In light of this, the HKCDR will actively continue to collect clinical information to aid the development of local evidence-based diabetes care.

Fatty liver and type 1 diabetes – an emerging connection

Although the liver is not traditionally viewed as one of the target organs selectively damaged by long-term diabetes, there have been evidence to indicate that they are linked through shared perturbations of metabolism. This connection has led endocrinologist and gastroenterologist to work more closely together to delineate common predisposing and perpetuating risk factors of diabetes and fatty liver disease, with the goals of identifying modifiable factors to aid preventative and therapeutic interventions.

A recent pilot study, led by the Virtus Medical Group on the prevalence of fatty liver amongst people with Type 1 diabetes, marks the emergence of an additional long-term complication for people living with diabetes. Through the use of a noninvasive fibroscan methodology, it has been found that there is a much higher rate of fatty liver and liver fibrosis index in adults than in children and teenagers under the age of 18. This supports the importance of including such assessment in the diabetes care of someone living with Type 1 diabetes.

Supporting children with diabetes in Hong Kong for 20 years

YDA was established in 2001 to support children affected by diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong disease. There is currently no cure. Children with Type 1 diabetes must rely on a daily controlled diet, blood glucose finger-prick testing and insulin injections just to stay alive. For 20 years, YDA have been supporting children with diabetes, and advocating that no child is held back because of diabetes.  YDA will continue to provide the support – financial, emotional, educational counselling, access to new technology and better treatment methods – to ensure that no child in Hong Kong will be alone in living with this lifelong disease.

YDA Blue November: Diabetes Awareness Month

A series of diabetes related activities will be held, including a press conference for the Result of Childhood Diabetes Registry and Fatty Liver Screening, social media BlueTube Challenge, Diabetes Conference and Insulin100 – Cycle for Diabetes event. YDA Blue November aims to increase the public’s awareness of the seriousness of diabetes for children with the condition and to increase the public’s understanding of diabetes.