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CLEVELAND -- Amelie O'Connor is a normal kid in every way but one.

"You have this organ in your body called the pancreas that every time you eat gives you insulin and mine just stopped working so I need special help for that," she says.

And she's not alone.

Amelie is among a growing number of young people being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

"The latest report from the CDC shows that within the last 10 years, we have seen 23 percent increase in the Type 1 Diabetic population in the younger age," says Cleveland Clinic Dr. Betul Hatipoglu.

What's frightening is doctors don't know why.

"Of course, there is a genetic predisposition, but the rise is in many different countries, so genes are not enough to explain this increase," says Dr. Hatipoglu.

She adds that there are several theories for the spike including possible environmental causes such as our clean environment that doesn't expose kids to germs that helps their immune system mature.

Or perhaps too much processed food eaten by kids and/or pregnant mothers. Or the theory of kids maturing too fast.

"It's scary to me because as long as we don't know why there is this increase we can't really help or prevent it," says Amelie's mother, Angelika O'Connor.

26-year-old Tony Rotella learned he had type one three years ago.

"I had pretty much all the textbook symptoms I think you could have," Tony remembers, including sudden weight loss, extreme thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision and fatigue.

Today both Tony and Amelie use pumps to regulate their insulin levels.They also test their glucose levels several times a day and must be vigilant about food.

"A lot of needle pricks and you're constantly thinking about what you're eating. It changes your dietary habits of course and your lifestyle as a whole," Tony says.

It is a managable disease, but left unchecked can be deadly. It's critical to know the signs and get checked.

"You need to right away take care of it or the long term effects are just devastating," Angelika says.