To determine the incidence of IDDM in children aged < 20 years at diagnosis in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, for the period from 1 January 1990 to 31 December 1994 and to compare the incidence between whites and nonwhites in the same area and for the same time period.


All new patients diagnosed between January 1990 and December 1994 who were aged < 20 years, on insulin, and residents of Allegheny County at diagnosis were identified from medical records of 23 hospitals in the Allegheny County area. To verify the completeness of the hospitals using the capture-recapture method, pediatricians and diabetologists were used as a secondary source.


A total number of 257 patients were identified. The overall age-standardized incidence rate was 16.7/100,000. Nonwhites had a slightly higher incidence (17.6/100,000) than whites (16.5/100,000). In the 15–19 years age-group, the incidence in nonwhites (30.4/100,000) was almost three times higher than that in white (11.2/100,000) and more than two times higher than that in the previous period (from 1985 to 1989) (13.8/100,000).


For the first time in the Allegheny County registry, and in any other registry, nonwhites showed a higher incidence of IDDM than whites. The high incidence in the 15–19 years age-group was responsible for this phenomenon. This epidemic of diabetes in adolescent nonwhites may be the result of a rising incidence of classical IDDM or another type of diabetes. Further studies using population-based registries are needed to determine whether this increase is being seen in other areas and other ethnic groups and to clarify the reasons for the increase in IDDM among blacks.

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