Almost 23,000 children have diabetes in England, according to the first national audit of youngsters with the condition.
The figure is higher than the previous estimate of around 20,000 for the whole of the UK and has prompted calls for a national register and more support for children with the condition.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) led the audit which is being described as the first such official audit, on behalf of England’s chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson.
In the report, Growing up with Diabetes: children and young people with diabetes in 2009, commissioned by the Department of Health, the College found that more under-18s have diabetes than previously thought and most of them (97%) have Type 1.
It also found that there were at least 328 children under 18 with Type 2 diabetes, which has probably been caused by obesity.
The findings were based on a survey with responses from 244 hospitals in England with acute paediatric medical services.
Overall, the survey found there were 22,947 young people under 18 with diabetes, equivalent to 209 per 100,000 children.
At least 15,361 children of school age (aged five to 15) had the condition and most cases of type one were found in the North East and South East, while type two were most prevalent in London, the North East and the West Midlands.
RCPCH president, Professor Terence Stephenson said: “All children with any type of diabetes should be able to lead their daily life with the best support and medical care so that they can manage their condition.
“Effective care on a daily basis can greatly improve the quality of life of children and young people with diabetes. This survey may prompt questions about the standard and provision of care around the country and we hope that the government looks at this immediately.”
Dr. Rowan Hillson, national clinical director for diabetes said: “I commissioned this survey to help us to plan and deliver the best quality healthcare clinically and within schools and the community.
“A better understanding of the numbers of children and young people with diabetes will help us to enable them to grow up unimpeded by their condition, avoiding complications such as kidney disease and eye problems.”
The Department of Health said the findings would be used to help plan and deliver high quality care for children and young people wherever they lived in the country, including better accommodation of children’s needs in schools and in clinical settings.