Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes in Children

diabetes in children

What’s the difference, can it be prevented, and what are the symptoms?

Per the National Diabetes Statistic Report, 210,000 children and adolescents younger than 20 years old—or 25 per 10,000 US youths— has diagnosed diabetes. Of those, 187,000 had type 1 diabetes. 

And that number continues to grow in the United States. For instance, between 2002 and 2015, the report of youth younger than 20 diagnosed with type 2 diabetes increased by 4.8%. Those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes increased by 1.9%. 

Diabetes: a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine.

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

The body breaks down the carbohydrates you eat into blood sugar (blood glucose) that it uses for energy. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. According to diabetes.org, in type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. 

In type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin properly. With type 2 diabetes, while some people can control their blood sugar levels with healthy eating and exercise, others may need medication or insulin to help manage it.

Can diabetes be prevented in children? 

children with diabetesType 1 diabetes in children cannot be prevented.  The exact origin of diabetes diagnoses isn’t certain, but many scientists believe it has to do with genetics. 

Type 2 diabetes, at times, can be prevented. Ensuring your children maintain a healthy diet and incorporating physical activity can reduce your kids’ chances of developing type 2 diabetes. 

What are the symptoms of diabetes in children?

Symptoms develop differently for all individuals. It is typically hard for children to notice changes, unless the symptoms are unfortunately drastic. Diabetes diagnoses are usually found during regular, routine check-ups. 

Type 1 diabetes symptoms in children: 

    • Developing a sudden, unusual behavior (described as “acting drunk”)
    • Increased thirst and hunger
    • Unintentional weight loss
    • Fatigue 
    • Behavioral changes and irritability
    • Sudden vision changes, especially blurriness
    • Peeing more frequently
    • Becoming easily out of breath or having difficulty breathing
    • Dry mouth 
    • Itchy skin
    • Nausea and/or vomiting

While many symptoms are similar between type 1 and type diabetes, the following symptoms are mostly associated with type 2. Keep in mind that type 2 diabetes is often linked to obesity and in many cases is seen in adults. However, it can still occur in children, most commonly after the age of 10. 

Type 2 diabetes symptoms in children:

    • Yeast infections
    • Darkened areas of skin
    • Weight loss
    • Blurry vision
    • Tingling or numbness in hands and/or feet
    • Increased crankiness 
    • Increased thirst
    • Sores and/or cuts heal slowly

What are some resources for children with diabetes?

Hearing that your kiddo is diagnosed with diabetes is never easy as a parent. Similarly, it is challenging for children because they are scared, fearful of the unknown, and, at times, can put blame on themselves. 

We’ve compiled a list of resources that you and your kiddo can use as you navigate this new diagnosis: 

children with diabetes

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