There are marked geographic differences in the incidence of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM); for example, children in countries such as Finland are over 35 times more likely to develop IDDM than children in Japan. An understanding of the reasons for the geographic differences is likely to be important for understanding and, hopefully, preventing IDDM. There are problems, however, because of the lack of registries with adequate standardization. The major needs for the future studies include (1) to clarify the definition of IDDM for epidemiologic study, (2) to establish a standardized approach for IDDM registries, (3) to use registries to evaluate viral, immunologic, and genetic differences in order to explain differential risks across populations, and (4) to encourage the development of new population-based registries worldwide.

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