Manitoba

Rate of new Type 2 diabetes diagnosis among Manitoba kids climbed over 50% in last decade, new study finds

The Manitoba study also found that First Nations children are 25 times more likely to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes than non-Indigenous children. 

Report also finds First Nations children 25 times more likely to be diagnosed with the disease

A new report from the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy found that the rates of children being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes has climbed significantly in the last decade. (Africa Studio/Shutterstock)

The number of children being newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in Manitoba has jumped by more than 50 per cent over the last 10 years, a newly released study says.

The study also found that First Nations children are almost 25 times more likely to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes than non-Indigenous children. 

The study was conducted by researchers at the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba and the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, using multiple sets of data from Manitoba Population Research Data Repository.

The report found the annual incidence (the rate of new diagnoses) of Type 2 diabetes among all children in Manitoba went up more than 50 per cent over the last decade — from 22.8 cases per 100,000 children to 35.7 cases per 100,000 children.

Among First Nations children in Manitoba, the researchers found that the incidence of Type 2 diabetes went from 110.48 per 100,000 in 2009-10 to 154.59 per 100,000 in 2017-18 — a 40 per cent jump.

For all other children, incidence rates went from about five in 100,000 to 6.13 per 100,000 in the same time period — an increase of about 23 per cent.

The report clearly showed that the rates of type 2 diabetes among children and young people under 30 are growing faster than any other age group, and that these young people have a host of other health complications, said Dr. Elizabeth Sellers, one of the authors of the report. 

If people are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes younger and younger, it's creating a whole generation of people who are growing up ill, she said. 

"So who now is caring for the children? Who is helping care for the elders? That important segment of the population is going to be ill themselves," she said. 

"That impact on how a society and a structure functions, I think is going to be tremendous if we don't use this data as an impetus for change."

Researchers also found that while First Nations Manitobans are accessing their family doctor as much as non-Indigenous Manitobans, they have less access to specialists, which leads to worse outcomes.

For example, across all regions, First Nations Manitobans with Type 2 diabetes had consistently higher rates of lower-limb amputations than all other Manitobans with Type 2 diabetes, the report said. 

"There is this prevailing belief that First Nations individuals have more complications because they're not accessing health care," said Dr. Chelsea Ruth, one of the report's co-leads, in a news release. 

"But this report actually shows they're receiving health care in the same numbers, but the care received is not adequate to fit their needs."

Systemic racism, poor living conditions partly to blame

The study's authors said systemic racism and colonial laws are partly to blame for a disproportionate amount of First Nations children having Type 2 diabetes.

These high rates of diabetes are a direct result of the poor living conditions that many First Nations members live through, said that Lorraine McLeod with the Diabetes Integration Project of the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba.

For example, she said many First Nations children don't have access to the same recreation opportunities that other children do that might improve their health outcomes. 

"If you look at another population and place them in the same conditions that First Nations have lived under and face today you would see that these are conditions that would impact any population in the same way," she said. 

The study also found that as more young people are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, more women are going through pregnancy with the disease. 

Between 2011 and 2017, there were 2,283 infants born to women with Type 2 diabetes in Manitoba, about half of which were born to First Nation women, the study found. 

The report recommends that screening for Type 2 diabetes happen at a younger age. It also recommends that young adults with the disease should get better support and access health care services. 

In addition, the report recommends the expansion of neonatal and prenatal care in hospitals close to rural communities where many women with type 2 diabetes live, to allow for prenatal hospitalizations and care of late premature infants.

With files from Austin Grabish

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