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Type 2 Diabetes in Children - Topic Overview

This topic provides information about type 2 diabetes in children. If you are looking for information about type 1 diabetes, see the topic Type 1 Diabetes: Children Living With the Disease.

Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong disease that develops when the pancreas camera.gif cannot make enough insulin or when the body's tissues cannot use insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body's cells use sugar (glucose) for energy. It also helps the body store extra energy in muscle, fat, and liver cells.

Without insulin, the sugar cannot get into the cells to do its work. It stays in the blood instead. This can cause high blood sugar levels. A person has diabetes when the blood sugar stays too high too much of the time.

Over time, high blood sugar can cause problems with the eyes, heart, blood vessels, nerves, and kidneys. High blood sugar also makes a person more likely to get serious illnesses or infections.

In the past, doctors believed that type 2 diabetes was an adult disease and that type 1 diabetes was a children's disease. Now, more and more children are getting type 2 diabetes.

Finding out that your child has diabetes can be scary. But your child can live a long, healthy life by learning to manage the disease.

Doctors do not know exactly what causes diabetes. Experts believe the main risks for children getting type 2 diabetes are being overweight, not being physically active, and having a family history of the disease.

Also, the hormones released during the early teen years make it harder than usual for the body to use insulin correctly. This problem is called insulin resistance. It can lead to diabetes.

Most children with type 2 diabetes do not have symptoms when the disease is first found. If there are symptoms, they usually are mild and may include:

  • Having to urinate more often.
  • Feeling a little more thirsty than normal.
  • Losing a little weight for no clear reason.

A simple blood test is usually all that is needed to diagnose diabetes. Your child's doctor may do other blood tests if it is not clear whether your child has type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

A doctor may test your child for diabetes if he or she is overweight, gets little physical activity, or has other risk factors for the disease. A risk factor is anything that increases your chances of having a disease. Some children are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when they have a blood or urine test for some other reason.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 28, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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