Type 2 Diabetes in Children - What Happens
Type 2 diabetes
usually develops in adulthood, but the number of children being diagnosed with
the disease is rising. Children with type 2 diabetes are usually diagnosed
during the early teen years. During this time, their bodies are growing and
developing rapidly, placing a demand on the
pancreas to produce additional
The hormones released during
puberty can make it harder than usual for the body to use insulin correctly
(insulin resistance). Also, children with type 2
diabetes are usually overweight, which also contributes to insulin resistance.
If the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to overcome the resistance,
diabetes can develop.
Diabetes experts believe the disease progresses as it
does in adults. The main risk factors for complications from diabetes are the length of time a person
has diabetes and the degree of blood sugar control. A child who develops type 2
diabetes may have an increased risk of complications, because he or she will
have the disease for a long time. Some complications that children and teens may develop include:
If a child's blood sugar levels remain high for a long
time, he or she may grow at an abnormal rate—faster than normal for a while,
then slower than normal later. If blood sugar levels stay high during puberty,
normal changes and the start of menstruation may be delayed.
The way to prevent complications is to always keep blood sugar levels in a target range. This requires that your child follow his or her treatment plan
daily and monitor blood sugar levels often. Your child also will need ongoing
diabetes education and regular checkups. Other medical conditions, such as high
blood pressure and high cholesterol, need adequate medical care also, because
they raise the risk for diabetes complications.
Children with type
2 diabetes have to modify their lifestyles. Your child will be more successful
if your whole family is involved. These lifestyle changes benefit everyone by
reducing the risk for diabetes and heart