To determine the national incidence of diabetes in children by studying a group representing all parts of the country: the dependent children of U.S. military personnel.


Dates of admission, diagnosis of diabetes, age, and gender were collected for all 522,326 children, age 21 or younger, of active duty military personnel admitted to U.S. Army treatment facilities during fiscal years 1971-1991. Incidence rates were expressed as cases per 100,000 person-years.


A total of 2,308 cases of diabetes were diagnosed in 14.3 million person-years of follow-up over the 21 years. The overall incidence rate of diabetes in this population is 16.2 (95% confidence interval 15.5–16.9). For 1987–1991, the age-specific rates were 8.1 (0–4 years), 15.9 (5–9 years), 25.6 (10–14 years), 23.9 (15–19 years), and 23.4 (20–21 years).


The rates may be biased because of exclusion of people with diabetes from entering military service, and are limited by lack of age adjustment. The racial admixture of our study population does not match the U.S. population as a whole.

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