Diabetes in Children on the Rise

April 21, 2011 at 7:07 pm Leave a comment

When you think of children with diabetes, Type 1, previously known as juvenile diabetes, usually comes to mind. However, in the past two decades, healthcare providers are finding more and more children and adolescents with type 2, or adult-onset diabetes, a disease usually diagnosed in adults aged 40 years or older.

The epidemics of obesity and the low level of physical activity among young people, as well as exposure to diabetes in utero, may be major contributors to the increase in type 2 diabetes during childhood and adolescence.

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are 23.6 million people in the United States, or 7.8% of the population, who have diabetes. And last year, 215,000 new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people under 20 years of age.

Children and adolescents diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are generally between 10 and 19 years old, obese, have a strong family history for type 2 diabetes, and have insulin resistance.

What Is Type 2 Diabetes?

The digestive system breaks down carbohydrates into blood sugar glucose. The pancreas creates a hormone called insulin to lead glucose from the blood vessels into the cells of the body to be used for energy. In type 2 diabetes, the cells in a child’s body are resistant to the effects of insulin and glucose builds up in the bloodstream. Eventually, this causes glucose to reach dangerous levels in the body. Over time, the body becomes increasingly less able to handle all the glucose in the blood vessels. The high blood sugar can then lead to diabetes complications, such as heart disease, blindness, and kidney failure.

The risk factors for Type 2 diabetes in children include:

  •  A family history of diabetes
  • Being female
  • Excess weight.

In the U.S., almost one out of every five children is considered to be overweight. Once a child is overweight, chances are more than doubled that the child will develop diabetes.


Detecting type 2 diabetes in children is hard because it can go undiagnosed for a long time; children may have no symptoms or mild symptoms; and blood tests are needed for diagnosis. Watch for these symptoms:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Increased hunger or thirst, even after eating
  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Heavy breathing
  • Slow healing of sores or cuts
  • Itchy skin
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet

Entry filed under: Exercise, Managing your health, Nutrition.

Treatment and Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes in Children April is National Donate Life Month

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