Type 2 Diabetes in Children
Consequences of Type 2 Diabetes in Children
With type 2 diabetes in children, symptoms may be minor at first. However, serious health problems may be developing. These are complications associated with type 2 diabetes in children or adults:
- Kidney failure
- Heart disease
- Blood circulation and nerve damage
- Early death from complications
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes in Children
The first step in treating type 2 diabetes is for your child to visit a doctor. The doctor can determine if your child is overweight based on your child's age, weight, and height. The doctor can also request tests of your child's blood sugar to see if your child has diabetes or prediabetes. If your child does have diabetes, it can be more difficult to determine if it's type 1 or type 2.
Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend giving insulin to patients if it's not clear whether they have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If the doctor confirms it's type 2 diabetes, lifestyle changes along with the medication metformin are recommended. Metformin and insulin are the only two blood sugar-lowering medicines approved for those younger than 18, but others are being studied.
The AAP also recommends that children with type 2 diabetes get their hemoglobin A1c levels measured every three months. The test measures average blood sugar levels over the past two or three months.
Glucose monitoring is advised for all children taking insulin or another class of diabetes medication called sulfonylureas, along with those starting or changing treatment and those who haven't met treatment goals. Recommendations on how often to check blood sugar vary, but most experts suggest three or more times a day for children on insulin and less frequent measurement, including after-meal checks, for those not on insulin. Glucose monitoring can be done with a finger stick or a continuous glucose monitor.
The AAP also recommendeds nutrition counseling, moderate to vigorous exercise for at least 60 minutes daily, and limiting screen time at home to less than two hours per day.
Type 2 Diabetes Prevention in Children
The same steps used to treat type 2 diabetes in children can also prevent it. Reduce fats and sweets in your child's diet. Make sure your child gets physical activity each day. In fact, studies show that exercise has a dramatic effect on reducing insulin resistance. These two strategies can help your child achieve or maintain a normal weight and normal blood sugar levels.
Special Concerns With Type 2 Diabetes in Children
Children -- especially teens -- may have a tough time making changes to prevent or manage type 2 diabetes. You can help by following some of these suggestions:
- Talk with your child honestly but supportively about health and weight. Encourage your child to speak up about his or her concerns.
- Do not separate out your child for special treatment. Your entire family can benefit from making changes in diet and activity.
- Make changes gradually. Just as it took time for diabetes to develop, it will take time to achieve better health.
- Increase activities your child enjoys, while at the same time reducing the amount of time your family spends watching TV or playing video games.
- If your child refuses to follow his or her plan, try to find out why. Teens, for example, are dealing with hormone changes, demands on their time, peer pressure, and other factors that seem more important to them than taking care of diabetes.
- Set small, step-wise goals. Plan special rewards for your child when he or she meets each goal. Then move on to the next.
- Talk to a diabetes educator, doctor, dietitian, or other diabetes professional for more ideas on how to help your child become healthier.