Experts predict the number of children under five suffering from insulin-dependent diabetes will have doubled by 2020.
Researchers from Queen's University, Belfast, found that in 2005 there were around 15,000 new cases of insulin-dependent, or type 1 diabetes in Europe.
Of these, 24% were children under four years old, 37% children aged five to nine, and 34% children aged 10 to 14.
The figures show that the number of cases of the condition is increasing by 3.9% per year and warned that if the present trend continues the numbers in 2020 will have reached 24,400 new cases.
The team warns that the number of cases among children aged five and under will be double that in 2005 and cases among over fives will also increase substantially.
Scientists say the huge rise is too fast to be a result of genetic factors alone and instead lifestyle factors may be partly responsible.
They say women having bigger babies and an increase in Caesarean section births could also be responsible.
The research authors, led by Dr Christopher Patterson, write: "Appropriate care from diagnosis, and maintenance of good metabolic control are crucial for delay or prevention of these adverse complications."