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Northern Ireland group meeting: Epidemiology counts - childhood diabetes matters

Written by Gilbert MacKenzie on . Posted in Sections and local group meeting reports

The Northern Ireland group held a meeting at 4pm on Wednesday the 16th of April, 2013 in the David Bates Building in Queen's University Belfast. The speaker was Professor Chris Patterson of the Centre for Public Health Excellence at Queen's University Belfast.

Professor Patterson's talk was based in part on his recent inaugural lecture. He traced the timeline of statistics (and statisticians) from John Graunt to the development of the Royal Statistical Society, mentioning the role of Florence Nightingale in passing. He next paid tribute to a number of local statisticians with whom he had interacted over the years. This led naturally to a consideration of the research conducted in the Centre for Public Health Excellence - a total of 172 papers during 2008-2012.

His particular research interest was childhood diabetes which had been sparked by a paper written as a result of his dissertation for the MSc at the LSHTM. He described the two types of diabetes in detail, noting that the prevalence of type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes was 5% among Northern Ireland adults. The discovery of insulin was a major discovery rendering an otherwise fatal condition manageable, but there were still approximately 120 newly diagnosed cases in NI each year.

The crude rates had risen since 1989, but there was evidence that, latterly, the rates had plateaued in the 0-4 age group. A spatial map of relative rates in the 582 electoral wards of NI revealed no clear pattern while a formal analysis suggested that remoteness, auence and low population childhood density were potential risk factors. Norther Ireland had the highest register-based incidence rate of several regions studied 33.9 (per 100,000) compared to 25.1 in Oxford (the minimum).

Professor Patterson went on to describe the world-wide incidence distribution. NI was not the highest, but it was among the highest. He next discussed two EURODIAB studies. The 15 year EURODIAB incidence study which predicted some disturbing trends in future numbers of cases, especially in boys, while the EURODIAB case-control identi ed several factors positively associated with type 1 diabetes (odds-ratios: 1.3-1.51). A number of other studies were described and although some progress had been made, Professor Patterson felt that the key risk factors had yet to be identi fied.

The talk was received with acclaim and a lively discussion ensued.

Northern Ireland local group

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