What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is one of the most common chronic diseases in childhood.

The incidence of T1D is increasing, especially in children less than 5 years of age.

T1D is a chronic disease caused by immune-mediated destruction of insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas. The destruction of beta cells results in insulin insufficiency, and patients develop life-threatening hyperglycemia (high blood sugars) that can cause weight loss, polyuria (frequent need to urinate), and polydipsia (increased thirst).

How common is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5-10% of all patients with diabetes and typically starts in children and adolescents with a certain genetic background.

T1D is not only very common is children but it is also diagnosed at an increasing rate in adults.

The incidence of type 1 diabetes is expected to double in children less than 5 years of age by 2020 in developed countries.



The incidence rate varies significantly by geographic region. Sweden, Finland, Norway, United Kingdom, and Sardinia have the highest incidence of T1D at a rate of > 20/100000 per year. For comparison, the United States has an incidence rate of 17.8/100000 per year and is most common in Caucasian population. China and South America have the lowest incidence of T1D, reported as < 1/100000 per year.


1. Simmons KM, Michels AW. Type 1 diabetes: A predictable disease. World J Diabetes. 2015 Apr 15;6(3):380-90.
2. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/diabetestype1.html