Type 2 Diabetes in Children
Learning About Type 2 Diabetes
Under normal circumstances, rising glucose levels (a type of sugar) in the blood cause the pancreas to produce the hormone insulin. Insulin allows the glucose in the blood to enter the cells of the body and be converted into energy. ]]>Type 2 diabetes]]> develops when the body loses its ability to respond properly to insulin.
In type 2 diabetes, the body’s cells become progressively less sensitive to insulin and, therefore, very large amounts are required for glucose control. Unfortunately, the pancreas cannot maintain this elevated level of insulin production indefinitely, and eventually the body loses the ability to produce all the insulin it needs. At this point, blood sugar levels rise. Despite these high blood sugar levels, symptoms of diabetes may either be absent or so mild as to escape attention.
In contrast, ]]>type 1 diabetes]]>, occurs only after the pancreas is severely damaged by the body’s immune system. The damaged pancreas can no longer produce adequate amounts of insulin. Therefore, instead of the high levels of insulin and insulin resistance seen in type 2 diabetes, very low levels of insulin occur in type 1 diabetes. As a result, sudden serious illness requiring emergency insulin treatment is quite common in type 1 diabetes.
Finding the Causes and Risk Factors
]]>Obesity]]> is the major cause of most type 2 diabetes because the tissue of overweight people frequently become resistant to insulin. Since physical activity improves tissue sensitivity to insulin, physically inactive people also have tissues that are more insulin resistant.
The short-term effects of type 2 diabetes include:
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
Possible long-term effects of type 2 diabetes include:
Screening and Diagnosing
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), doctors should begin to screen children for diabetes at age 10 or puberty, whichever comes first, if they are overweight and have at least two other risk factors for diabetes. Screening should be repeated every 1-3 years. In addition to obesity, the risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:
- Family history: a close relative with type 2 diabetes (including mother having diabetes or ]]>gestational diabetes]]>)
- Ethnicity: African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, Native American, and Pacific Islander descent
- Conditions associated with insulin resistance, such as:
A blood test is done for screening and diagnosis. The most commonly used test is the fasting plasma glucose, a blood test done after a person has fasted for eight hours. A fasting plasma glucose (blood sugar) level of 126 milligrams per deciliter or greater on two separate occasions is diagnostic of diabetes. Other tests, like a hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test or a two-hour glucose tolerance test, can also be done to diagnose diabetes.
Making Lifestyle Changes
Managing their blood sugar levels requires major lifestyle changes for children. To succeed, children need adult supervision and support. The entire family should work with a diabetes team (doctor, nurse, social worker, dietician, and exercise counselor) to develop a healthy lifestyle.
Children living with type 2 diabetes need daily strategies to maintaining normal blood sugar levels. These include:
Planning healthy meals
- Eliminate regular sodas, limit carbohydrates and fruit juice, and have your child eat whole grains and vegetables.
- Count grams of carbohydrates and read food labels.
Increasing physical activity
- Encourage your child to get plenty of active play time every day.
- Plan for periods of low blood sugar by carrying short-acting glucose or carbohydrates.
Monitoring and taking medicines
- Check your child's blood sugar levels throughout the day if directed. There are different ways to check blood sugar levels. Some methods involve pricking the finger or arm and applying a drop of blood to a meter with a glucose-sensitive strip.
- Schedule regular eye and foot exams to detect and treat early vision and circulatory problems.
- If instructed by the doctor, monitor your child's blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- To control blood sugar, have your child take medicines and/or insulin injections as prescribed.
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes in Children
The primary preventive measures for type 2 diabetes are maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise. A diet with age appropriate calorie intake and plenty of fruits and vegetables is ideal for diabetes prevention. Vigorous daily play should also be encouraged in school and at home. Rather than spending time online, watching TV, or playing video games, children should have fun exercising.
American Diabetes Association
Children With Diabetes
Canadian Diabetes Association
Diabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health/diabetes/diabetes.htm. Accessed on May 16, 2003.
Diabetes overview. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/washington/overview/diabetes.htm. Accessed on May 16, 2003.
Diet and exercise delay diabetes and normalize blood glucose. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/welcome/releases/02-06-02.htm. Accessed on May 19, 2003.
DynaMed Editors. Diabetes mellitus type 2 screening. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated February 19, 2010. Accessed March 23, 2010.
DynaMed Editors. Diabetes mellitus type 2. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated March 15, 2011. Accessed March 22, 2011.
Frequently asked questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/faqs.htm . Accessed on May 16, 2003.
Hopkin K. Confronting diabetes from all angles. Howard Hughes Medical Institute Bulletin. 2001:16-21.
Kassel K. Diagnosis type 2 diabetes. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated September 20, 2010. Accessed March 22, 2011.
Mansfield J. Pediatric and Adolescent Endocrinology, Joslin Diabetes Center. Personal communications. May 27, 2003 and June 5, 2003.
Joslin Diabetes Center website. Available at: http://www.joslin.harvard.edu/education/library/index.shtml . Accessed on May 19, 2003.
McLean M, Chipps D, Cheung NW. Mother to child transmission of diabetes mellitus: does gestational diabetes program type 2 diabetes in the next generation? Diabet Med. 2006;23(11):1213-1215.
Medical information. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/main/type2/medical/default.jsp. Accessed on May 16, 2003.
Morrison JA, Friedman LA, Wang P, Glueck CJ. Metabolic syndrome in childhood predicts adult metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes mellitus 25 to 30 years later. J Pediatr. 2008;152(2):201-206.
News & information. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/news/index.htm. Accessed on May 16, 2003.
Research advances and directions: diabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/pdf/niddk-brochure.pdf. Accessed May 15, 2003.
What you need to know about type 2 diabetes in children. Children With Diabetes website. Available at: http://www.childrenwithdiabetes.com/d_0n_d00.htm. Accessed on May 27, 2003.
Wood D. Type 2 diabetes. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated February 15, 2010. Accessed March 23, 2010.
2/15/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes—2010. Diabetes Care. 2010;33(suppl 1:S11-61).
2/15/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: American Diabetes Association. Diagnosis and classification of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Care. 2010;33(suppl 1:S62-69).
8/27/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Lobelo F, Liese AD, Liu J, et al. Physical activity and electronic media use in the SEARCH for diabetes in youth case-control study. Pediatrics. 2010;125(6):e1364-71. Epub 2010 May 10.
Last reviewed March 2011 by ]]>Brian Randall, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2007 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.