Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Prospective study of incidence of juvenile diabetes mellitus over 10 years in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

British Medical Journal 1993; 306 doi: (Published 12 June 1993) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1993;306:1570
  1. A B Swai,
  2. J L Lutale,
  3. D G McLarty
  1. Department of Medicine, Muhimbili Medical Centre, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


    OBJECTIVE--To ascertain the annual incidence of diabetes requiring treatment with insulin in children and adolescents aged 0-19 years in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, during a 10 year period from 1 January 1982 to 31 December 1991. DESIGN--Prospective registration at a major urban hospital of all patients with newly diagnosed diabetes who were resident in Dar es Salaam. SETTING--Muhimbili Medical Centre, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. PATIENTS--86 patients: 45 male, 41 female. RESULTS--The annual incidence of juvenile diabetes for both sexes was 1.5 per 100,000 population aged 0-19 years (95% confidence interval 1.3 to 1.7). Incidence per 100,000 population per year increased with age: 0.6 (0.0 to 0.13) in the age group 0-4 years, 0.5 (0.3 to 0.7) at 5-9 years, 2.2 (1.8 to 2.6) at 10-14 years, and 3.4 (2.9 to 3.9) at 15-19 years. CONCLUSION--Juvenile diabetes mellitus is fairly rare in sub-Saharan Africa. If environmental factors such as infection and material deprivation were important determinants of insulin dependent diabetes in Africans, as they may be in Europeans, much higher rates would have been expected unless genetic factors possibly exert a protective role. The eightfold greater incidence in African Americans than in Tanzanians may be related to greater genetic admixture in African Americans with people from countries in Europe with a high incidence.