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Diabetes in children and the young

Most children and young people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a rare disease in Finnish children and youths.

In Finland, approximately 650 children or young people under the age of 20 are diagnosed with diabetes each year. Based on Kela’s medicine reimbursement statistics, there are approximately 6,800 people aged 0–19 with diabetes.

Most children and young people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. The occurrence of type 1 diabetes is linked to both genetic and environmental factors. For example, some viral infections combined with genetics can cause an inflammatory autoimmune disease, which destroys beta cells in the pancreas. This results in insulin deficiency, which must be treated with replacement insulin injections or an insulin pump.

See video of the symptoms of diabetes on children (in Finnish):

A child or young person can also get monogenic diabetes, which is caused by a mutation in a single gene. However, it is rare: only approximately 1–2 per cent of people diagnosed with diabetes have it.

Although type 2 diabetes is becoming more common in children and young people, in Finland, it is still rare in children. According to a register survey by Diabetes in Finland (FinDM), total of 98 persons under the age of 20 were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2017. The principles of management are similar to adults, i.e. good lifestyle choices and, if required, medication. That said, not all of the pharmaceutical products for adults have been approved for the use of children.

See the Childrenhub of Health Village for information regarding childrens' diabetes symptoms, management and support.

Updated 30.9.2023