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Children and Diabetes

Por Alvin N. Eden, M.D. -

The rise of child obesity rates over the past ten years has led to an epidemic of type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents. Whether or not children should be routinely tested for diabetes has become an important question.

The most common test used to diagnose diabetes is called a fasting blood sugar test, and it is done by drawing blood in the morning before the child has eaten anything. The American Diabetes Association recommends only testing children who are at substantial risk for the presence or development of type 2 diabetes, and they don’t recommend that all children be routinely tested.

Which children are considered high-risk? High-risk children are those who are obese, especially those with a family history of diabetes. We should also take into account children belonging to certain racial/ethnic groups, such as Hispanics, and children with high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol levels, when determining whether or not to test.

If your child seems to fit into a high-risk category, ask your doctor about having him/her tested for type 2 diabetes. Remember that type 2 diabetes can be detected in many overweight children before they show any signs or symptoms using a fasting blood sugar test. It is very important to diagnose type 2 diabetes as early as possible, which really means before any signs or symptoms develop. We have different ways of lowering high blood sugar levels. The earlier these blood sugar levels are brought down to normal, the sooner serious diabetes complications can be prevented.

High risk children should be tested every two years starting at age 10 or at the beginning of puberty, whichever comes first.
Because diabetes is such a serious disease that often leads to terrible complications in adults such as blindness, amputations, kidney failure, and heart attacks, anything you can do to postpone or prevent it is important. It is your job to prevent your child from becoming overweight. If he/she is already markedly overweight, the sooner you address this issue, the better the chances of preventing or postponing the onset of this illness.


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