Study objective: As earlier studies have shown space-time clusters at onset of type 1 diabetes in the south east region of Sweden we investigated if there also has been any geographical clusters of diabetes in this region.
Design: The place of residence (coordinates) at the time of diagnosis were geocoded in a geographical information system (GIS). All children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes up to 16 years of age at diagnosis between 1977–1995 were included. The population at risk was obtained directly from the population registry for the respective years and geographical area levels.
Setting: South east region of Sweden containing 5 counties, 49 municipalities, and 525 parishes.
Main results: A significant geographical variation in incidence rate were found between the municipalities (p<0.001) but not between the counties. The variation became somewhat weaker when excluding the six largest municipalities (p<0.02). In municipalities with increased risk (>35.1/100 000) the major contribution comes from children in age group 6–10 years of age at diagnosis. There were no obvious differences between the age groups in municipalities with decreased risk (<20.1/100 000). Boys and girls had about the same degree of geographical variation.
Conclusions: Apart from chance, the most probable explanation for the geographical variation in the risk for children and adolescents to develop type 1 diabetes between the municipalities in the region is that local environmental factors play a part in the process leading to the disease.
- type 1 diabetes
- spatial distribution
- small area analysis
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Funding: the study was supported by the Swedish Child Diabetes Foundation (Barndiabetesfonden) and FORSS (Research council in south east Sweden)