AIMS: Specific patterns in incidence may reveal environmental explanations for type 1 diabetes incidence. We aimed to study type 1 diabetes incidence in European childhood populations to assess whether an increase could be attributed to either period or cohort effects.
METHODS: Nineteen EURODIAB centres provided single year incidence data for ages 0-14 in the 25-year period 1989-2013. Case counts and person years were classified by age, period and cohort (APC) in 1-year classes. APC Poisson regression models of rates were fitted using restricted cubic splines for age, period and cohort per centre and sex. Joint models were fitted for all centres and sexes, to find a parsimonious model.
RESULTS: A total of 57,487 cases were included. In ten and seven of the 19 centres the APC models showed evidence of nonlinear cohort effects or period effects, respectively, in one or both sexes and indications of sex-specific age effects. Models showed a positive linear increase ranging from approximately 0.6 to 6.6%/year. Centres with low incidence rates showed the highest overall increase. A final joint model showed incidence peak at age 11.6 and 12.6 for girls and boys, respectively, and the rate-ratio was according to sex below 1 in ages 5-12.
CONCLUSION: There was reasonable evidence for similar age-specific type 1 diabetes incidence rates across the EURODIAB population and peaks at a younger age for girls than boys. Cohort effects showed nonlinearity but varied between centres and the model did not contribute convincingly to identification of environmental causes of the increase.