The Rise in Childhood Diabetes

Registered Dietician

| 2 min read

Diabetes is no longer just a problem for adults. In fact, the disease is being diagnosed in children with even greater frequency today than ever before, and is now considered to be one of the most common chronic diseases in children and adolescents. But when did this happen, and why? The answer is more complicated than people may expect.
Type 2 diabetes – once called adult-onset diabetes – was rarely seen in children before 1990. Since then, the number of diagnosis in children each year has increased at a rapid rate, a trend doctors believe to be the result of the high prevalence of obesity in youth. For type 2 diabetes, the increase makes sense: as more children become obese, the number of children diagnosed with this disease increases at a similar rate.
Type 1 diabetes is not as simple and the recent increase in diagnosis leaves researchers stumped. In the first major analysis of diabetes trends conducted this year, researchers reported the number of Type 1 diabetes diagnosis has increased 23 percent over an eight-year period ending in 2009. Untreated Type 1 diabetes can be extremely dangerous and even fatal, so it is important for parents to be aware of some of the warning signs associated with this disease. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International lists the following as Type 1 diabetes warning signs:
  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Sudden vision change
  • Sugar in urine
  • Fruity, sweet, or winelike odor on breath
  • Increased appetite
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Drowsiness, lethargy
  • Heavy, labored breathing
  • Stupor, unconsciousness
Additionally, families can help avoid childhood obesity, which is known to lead to type 2 diabetes in kids, by encouraging everyone to incorporate more fruits, vegetables and lean meats into their diet, as well as increased exercise.
Photo Credit: A Healthier Michigan

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
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