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Rate of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes rises over 50% over last 10 years, MCHP study finds

First Nations individuals twice as likely as all other Manitobans to be newly diagnosed

Once thought of as a disease affecting mainly older adults, type 2 diabetes has been on the rise among younger people in Manitoba. In the last decade, the number of children in the province diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has risen by more than 50 per cent, and the rate of diagnosis is even higher in First Nations communities, according to a new study from the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) in partnership with the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba (FNHSSM).

The report found that children in First Nations communities are 25 times more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than other children in Manitoba.

“Type 2 diabetes is increasing in all populations in Manitoba, including children, but the numbers are disproportionately high for registered First Nations children,” said Dr. Chelsea Ruth, assistant professor of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Manitoba, and one of the study’s co-leads.

 She said First Nations individuals are accessing primary care at a similar rate as all other Manitobans, but noted that care is not reducing the complications from type 2 diabetes, such as leg and foot amputations and kidney failure.

“There is this prevailing belief that First Nations individuals have more complications because they’re not accessing health care, 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,” she said, citing the impact of systemic racism and colonial laws. “First Nation individuals also saw specialists at lower rates than all other Manitobans, which may contribute to worse outcomes. This lack of equity needs to be addressed.”

Ruth also noted many Manitobans are not receiving the care recommended by national guidelines to prevent complications. She said a screening that should be done annually to discover early kidney disease is by 63 per cent for First Nations Manitobans and only 53 per cent of all other Manitobans.

The report, which used multiple data sets from the Manitoba Population Research Data Repository at MCHP to identify Manitobans living with the disease, urged that type 2 diabetes care cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach, especially in First Nations communities, which need strategies that work for their unique needs.

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