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Diabetes Health Center

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How Does Type 2 Diabetes Affect Children?

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How Is It Treated?

The first step is to get your child to the doctor. He can tell if she’s overweight based on her age, weight, and height. He’ll test her blood sugar to see if she has diabetes or prediabetes. If she does have diabetes, it may take a few extra steps to find out if it's type 1 or type 2.

Until he knows for sure, he may give her insulin. Once he confirms it's type 2 diabetes, he’ll ask you to help her make lifestyle changes. He may suggest she take a medication called metformin. It and insulin are the only two blood sugar-lowering medicines approved for kids younger than age 18, but others are being studied.

Your child should get a hemoglobin A1c test every 3 months. This test measures her average blood sugar levels over that period.

She’ll need to check her blood sugar:

  • When she starts or changes treatment
  • If she doesn't meet her treatment goals
  • If she has to take insulin
  • If she takes a sulfonylurea drug

The doctor will teach you both how to test blood sugar and tell you how often. Most experts suggest three or more times a day if she’s on insulin. If she’s not, she can check less often, but should do it after meals. She can use a traditional finger stick test or a continuous glucose monitor.

You can take her to see a dietitian, who can help you create a meal plan.

She should also get exercise for at least 60 minutes every day. Limit her screen time at home to less than 2 hours a day.


Can You Prevent It?

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 she gets physical activity each day. Studies show that exercise has a dramatic effect on reducing insulin resistance. These are two easy ways to help your child get down to and stay at a healthy weight and normal blood sugar levels.

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