Healthy Living: Diabetes and children

Healthy Living

New numbers show a huge spike in type two diabetes among kids. According to research from the National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Disease, the number has jumped 95%. But kids are not alone.

Adults are also seeing a spike. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has lowered its recommended age to 35, down from 40, to test people with above-normal BMIs for elevated glucose levels that could mean prediabetes or diabetes itself.

Overweight and obesity are the strongest risk factors for developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes in adults. Dr. Lina Huerta, a pediatric endocrinologist at Penn State Children’s Hospital, says she’s not surprised by these numbers and is urging a response from the community.

“If we don’t fix this, a child with pre-diabetes, and that means elevated hemoglobin A1C, impaired fasting glucose, dysglycemia, a child who was an infant of a diabetic mother who is jumping on the growth chart for 10 years without any way to stop that cure — we need to help — If we want to have adults because unfortunately, Type II diabetes is a cause of mortality — and not only morbidity but mortality.”

As Dr. Huerta mentioned, there are several factors that put a child at a higher risk of developing type two diabetes.

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One risk factor for children whose mothers had gestational diabetes while pregnant are at a higher risk for insulin sensitivity. Another factor is weight gain.

In 2018, new guidance from the American Diabetes Association recommended paying attention to metabolic risk factors known to be high risk for metabolic diseases such as an infant of a diabetic mother or first or second-degree family members with Type II Diabetes or hypertension.

So how do you decrease the risk?

• First, Dr. Huerta says daily exercise should be mandatory
• Also, educate yourself on nutrition and healthy eating,
• Lastly, know your individual metabolic risks

As for children, watch for skin darkening at folds of the neck, elbows and knuckles. It may be a sign of insulin resistance.

In addition to knowing your risk factor, Dr. Huerta says education is key. She’d love to see more resources for education on nutrition and healthy eating within schools and says physical activity and daily movement have to become mandatory for our children.

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