Not many years ago it was rare to hear of a child with type 2 diabetes. There was once a time when if you had diabetes as a child it was always considered to be type 1 or juvenile-onset, diabetes. That is not the case anymore. The CDC has stated that more than 186,000 people who are under the age of 20 have diabetes, including type 1 or type 2. Can you prevent Type 2 diabetes, and what can you do if your child is diagnosed with it.
Type 2 Diabetes
Normally the body’s digestive system breaks down carbohydrates into the blood sugar glucose and the pancreas creates insulin. This insulin will direct the glucose from the blood vessels to to the cells in the body to Use for energy. Type 2 diabetes. This process does not happen with type 2 diabetes, in children. The child’s body is resistant to insulin, so the glucose begins to build up within the bloodstream. This will then cause the blood glucose to reach extremely dangerous levels for the body.
Over the course of time, the body will become less able to handle all of this excess glucose and these high sugar(glucose) levels will lead to complications with diabetes, which can be kidney failure, heart disease or blindness.
There are several risk factors that will increase the chances of developing type 2 diabetes in children.
- Being Overweight
- Family or genetic history of having diabetes.
- Girls are more likley to develop diabetes
- Specific ethnic groups such as Hispanic/Latino, American Indians, african americans and Asians are more likely to to develop diabetes.
- Children with insulin resistance. Most children are diagnose with diabetes at the start of puberty, within insulin resistance grows.
Weight and Obesity
Children, who have excess weight and are overweight or obese, have the highest risk of developing childhood type-2 diabetes. In the United states nearly 1 out of every 5 children are considered overweight. The chances of developing diabetes more than doubles when a child is overweight. The factors that contribute to childhood obesity are primarily:
- Lack of physical activity and exercise.
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Genetic inheritance, which predispose a child of being overweight
- Rare hormonal medical contions
Similar to type 2 diabetes in adults, children who have excess belly or abdominal weight increase the likelihood of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Symptoms of Childhood type 2 Diabetes.
Symptoms for type 2 diabetes usually develop slowly. At first you may not notice any symptoms. Overtime you may start to notice one of more of these symptoms below:
- Unexpected weight loss
- Increased thirst and hunger, more so than usual
- Dry mouth
- Frequent need to urinate
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Heavy breathing
- Cuts and sores heal slowly
- Skin that itches
- Numbness and loss of feeling in hands and feet
- The nerve damage can occur in the hands in feet do to poor blood circulation which increases the risk of complications, without treatment, untreated cuts and blisters become infections.
The causes of type-2 diabetes are not fully known, although weight and genetic factors are important.
Insulin the hormone from the pancreas gland behind the stomach produces insulin as a child eats. This insulin travels through the blood stream and this unlocks other cells in the body so that glucose is based to these cells from the blood. Without insulin the blood glucose levels become unstable and other parts of the body don’t receive the glucose it needs. Glucose is important because it is the energy source of the body.Glucose comes from the food a child will eat and the child’s liver.
As mentioned earlier, with type-2 diabetes, it is possible to have complications. These may start off as minor, but more serious health issues may be developing. This complications may be thought of as issues adults only have, but they can affect children just as well.
- Kidney failure
- Diabetes may damage the blood vessels clusters in the liver, that filters waste, and severe damage can lead to failure or kidney disease.
- Heart disease
- Blood circulation and nerve damage
- Eye damage occurs because blood vessels in the retina become damage leading to glaucoma or cataracts.
- Skin conditions may occur, leaving your child susceptible to skin infections or fungal infections.
- Early death from these complications
There are several treatments that can help a child with type-2 diabetes.
The first thing that you should do, is to set up a visit with the doctor. The doctor can examine your child to see if he or she is overweight or obese based on your child’s age, height and weight. The doctor will also request test to evaluate the level of sugar that’s in your child’s blood, this will indicate diabetes or pre-diabetes. If you child has diabetes then the doctor must then determine if it is type 1 or type 2.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) it is recommended that the child receives insulin even if it’s not clear which type of diabetes he or she has. If it is determined that your child has type 2 diabetes, then certain lifestyle changes will need to be implemented for you child as well as taken medication, which is Metformin. Metformin and insulin are currently the only to approved medications that lowers blood sugar, for people younger than the age 18.
The APP also recommends that children with type 2 diabetes, get there hemoglobin A1c levels measured at least, every three months. This test will measure the average blood sugar levels in the past 2 or 3 months.
Blood glucose monitoring is an important component of managing a child’s diabetes, there are medications such as sulfonylureas. This medication could be part of a change or start of a new treatment plan, for those children who previous plans haven’t been as effective. The doctors recommendations will vary of taking a child’s blood sugar. Many experts suggest 3 or more times a day. Less frequent measurements. can happen after meals for children who are not taking insulin. Glucose monitor can be done with a continues monitor or finger stick.
It is recommended that a child receives nutritional counseling and moderate to vigorous exercise for an hour a day. To prevent diabetes children should eat much less processed food, and eat greens, vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Children should eat less fat, sugar and sweets. Exercise is critical to your child’s health, and will dramatic reduce inulin resistance. This will help your child maintain an normal weight and normal blood sugar levels.