Unfortunately, type 2 diabetes is no longer a disease that only affects the adult population. Over the past 20 years, type 2 diabetes in children has ceased to be a rarity, and the number of children with this disease is growing every year. About 5 million people are projected to have diabetes by 2025, of which 4.5 million will have type 2 diabetes – many of them children and young adults.
Fortunately, type 2 diabetes is less common in children than type 1 diabetes. Recent studies have shown that the growing prevalence of obesity in children and type 2 diabetes are linked. Thus, it becomes clear that taking care of your child’s diet and lifestyle is the surest way to avoid diabetes.
Although obesity in children is a relatively new problem and no research has yet been conducted on the determinants and causes, the available evidence points to family habits and education. Eating a healthy, varied diet and exercise regimen from an early age lays a good foundation for a healthy life and also helps prevent disease. Since overweight and obese children are more likely to grow into obese adults, the cycle of unhealthy lifestyles is unlikely to break, which means that new generations of children at high risk of developing diabetes will emerge.
Which children are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes?
Protecting your loved ones is a natural impulse, and we understand that you always want the best for your child. As the aforementioned study shows, more than 95% of all children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes are overweight and about 83% are clinically obese 2 . Keeping children as active and healthy as possible can significantly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
It has been found that ethnicity can influence the likelihood of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that people of African and Creole descent have a 3 times higher risk of developing the disease, while people from southern Asia have an almost 6 times higher risk. 3
If your child belongs to any of these groups, this is not a reason to worry, because genetics is a factor that we cannot influence, and stress and panic will not help here. Even in the worst case, type 2 diabetes can be controlled, and advances in medical technology are enabling us to provide more convenient insulin delivery and support.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes in children
Very often, in children, the symptoms of diabetes do not fully manifest themselves until a definitive diagnosis is made. This is because children’s blood sugar levels slowly increase as they get older, causing them to fall out of sight. However, the most common symptoms in children are:
- Frequent urination If your child develops bedwetting and uses the toilet frequently during the day, this could be a sign of diabetes.
- Increased thirst Children often run and exercise while playing and may therefore consume a lot of water. But if you notice that the child is still asking for water or other drinks, although there was no physical activity, this may be a warning sign.
Type 2 diabetes in children can present with other symptoms, including:
- Increased fatigue
- Weight loss
- Frequent infections, slow healing of wounds and suppuration
- Blurry vision
The Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms post provides a complete list of symptoms and other related information for you and your loved ones.
Challenges faced by children with diabetes
Type 2 diabetes in children is very similar in its symptoms to diabetes in adults, but the difficulties faced by children differ dramatically. The diagnosis of diabetes brings with it new responsibilities and factors to consider, things that a child would never normally think of.
The support of a parent or loved one can help a child lead a fulfilling and healthy life. It starts with effective disease communication to help you understand how to manage the condition and how to recognize warning signals before potential hypoglycemic / hyperglycemic episodes .
It can be difficult for most children to cope with injections at such a young age, so an insulin pump can help. An insulin pump has been clinically proven to significantly lower hemoglobin HbA1c in type 2 diabetics 4
1 NHS UK. (August 2014). Diabetes introduction. Retrieved Jan 2016, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Diabetes/Pages/diabetes.asp
2 Public health england. (np). Health risks of childhood obesity. Retrieved Jan 2016, from https://www.noo.org.uk/NOO_about_obesity/obesity_and_health/health_risk_child
3 NHS UK. (np). Causes of type 2 diabete. Retrieved Jan 2016, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Diabetes-type2/Pages/Causes.aspx
4 Reznik Y. Cohen O. Aronson R. et al, Insulin pump treatment compared with multiple daily injections for treatment of type 2 diabetes (OpT2mise): a randomized open-label controlled trial. Lancet 2014 Jul 2.pii: S0140- 6736 (14) 61037-0. doi: 10.1016 / S0140-6736 (14) 61037-0