Rising type 2 diabetes rate shown to contribute to increasing kidney disease burden

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes has increased dramatically over the course of the last couple decades, and a new study from a team of University of Washington researchers suggests that this trend may be taking a toll on the kidney health of Americans.

The researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association that the number of people who suffer from diabetic kidney disease increased at about the same rate as diabetes itself between 1988 and 2008.

Kidney disease afflicts about 40 percent of people who develop diabetes at some point in their lifetime. Nearly half of all cases of end-stage renal disease are a consequence of diabetes. With diabetes rates continuing to rise at a rapid clip, the researchers said that this could be a recipe for a major public health crisis.

"Diabetic kidney disease has become more prevalent in the U.S. population over the last 2 decades and will likely contribute increasingly to healthcare costs and mortality," the team wrote in their report. "Over time, the prevalence of diabetic kidney disease may increase due to the expanding size of the diabetes population or decrease due to the implementation of diabetes therapies."

For the study, the team analyzed data collected during the 1988-1994, 1999-2004 and 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. At the time of the first survey, 2.2 percent of the U.S. population suffered from diabetic kidney disease. By the time of the last investigation, that number had jumped to 3.3 percent.

Similarly the number of people being treated for diabetes increased at nearly the exact same rate. This means that as rates of type 2 diabetes continue to climb, kidney disease will likely become a much more common condition. This is significant, since it places such a burden on the individual and the healthcare system.