Type 2 diabetes in children is a condition that affects the way your child’s body metabolizes sugar (glucose). The amount of glucose in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. Insulin, a hormone in our body, is needed to allow glucose to pass into the body’s cells to provide. Type 2 diabetes develops in your child when they can still produce some insulin, but not enough, or when the cells do not respond to the insulin produced properly (known as insulin resistance).
Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes, because in the past it was mostly associated with adults. However, in recent years type 2 diabetes in children is rising. In Bermuda, like other countries such as the US and UK, the rise has mirrored the obesity epidemic.
There is plenty to do to help manage or prevent type 2 diabetes in children. Such as, encouraging healthy eating, ensuring plenty of activities and exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. If diet and exercise is not enough to control type 2 diabetes, oral medications or insulin can be used.
Type 2 diabetes in children may develop gradually with few or no signs or symptoms. Some may experience:
Researchers don’t fully understand why some children develop type 2 diabetes and others don’t; however, it is clear that certain factors increase the risk:
Your general practitioner or pediatrician will order one or two blood tests to make a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. The following tests can be used to diagnose diabetes in children:
In the early stages of Type 2 Diabetes your child may feel fine, however preventing the complications of diabetes should be taken seriously. Diabetes can potentially affect every part of the body, the organs that are most at risk are heart and blood vessels, nerves, kidney’s and eyes. Keepings your child’s blood sugar close to normal can dramatically reduce the risk of him or her developing these complications.After the diagnosis
After your doctor makes the diagnosis, they will help organize a diabetes treatment team for your child: this will include a certified diabetes educator and dietician. You and your child may have several visits with them initially to help establish the best treatment plan, support and monitoring schedule for your child. Part of their goal will be to help your family make the necessary lifestyle changes to be successful with managing diabetes.Copings and Support
Type 2 diabetes is a serious disease. Helping your child follow his or her diabetes treatment plan takes round-the-clock commitment. But your efforts are worthwhile. Careful management of type 2 diabetes can reduce your child's risk of serious complications.Counseling and support
Talking to a counselor or therapist may help your child or you to cope with the lifestyle changes that come with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Your child should understand that he or she has done nothing “wrong” and are not alone. It maybe helpful for them to understand that diabetes is common in Bermuda and many other countries, and most of them have type 2. The Bermuda Diabetes Association can help your child find encouragement and understanding in a type 2 diabetes support group for children and yourself. If your child understands that they are not alone, they may be more eager to monitor and manage the disease.Prevention
Healthy lifestyle choices can prevent type 2 diabetes in children and its complications. If your child already has type 2 diabetes, lifestyle changes can reduce the need for medications. Encourage your child to:
Mayo Clinic Staff. Type 2 diabetes in children. Pages 1-15. April 2012.Mayo Clinic
DiabetesUK Care.Connect.Campaign. Type 2 diabetes in children. Pages 1-3. April 2012. Diabetes UK
Ferrell, Keith. Type 2 Diabetes: A Manageable Epidemic. Healthy Children Magazine, Summer 2007. Pages 1-3. April 2012. HealthyChildren.org