Kids – Explored

Youth-Onset Diabetes: Ample Reason for Concern

If the recent news of diabetes incidence going down seemed like great news, let’s remember there’s a flip side to that. In youth, type 2 diabetes is still rising. At the American Diabetes Association (ADA) scientific meeting, researchers spelled out the implication. Youth-onset diabetes (type 2) is harsh. Complications come faster and they hit harder.

The Today-2 Study

The Today-2 study followed more than 500 youth diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in their early teens. Five died of causes mostly related to their diabetes barely more than seven years after their diagnosis. Lead researcher Philip S. Zeitler explained:

Cardiovascular risk factors are highly prevalent in the population, target organ damage is evident, and serious cardiovascular events are occurring at rates unexpected for age.

The bottom line is that many of these kids have a very rapid course both in terms of loss of glycemic control as well as development of complications.

Rising Prevalence

Alvin Powers of Vanderbilt University expressed alarm about the rise of type 2 diabetes in youth:

In pediatric diabetes clinics, in some parts of the country, there are almost as many children or adolescents with type 2 diabetes as there are with type 1 diabetes. While these studies were performed in the U.S., I think it’s an alarm throughout the world as rates of diabetes increase in other populations.

This rise follows the relentless rise of childhood obesity, especially in its more severe forms.

Aggressive Treatment

Certainly, we need to figure out how to better prevent the rise of both obesity and type-2 diabetes in kids. But this cannot be an excuse for providing more adequate care. Late last year, the ADA issued guidelines for care of these youth.

At the same time, we need better options and better capacity for helping kids and families with severe childhood obesity. Continued neglect will continue to feed the rising prevalence of youth-onset diabetes.

Click here, here, here, and here for more on the Today-2 study as presented at the ADA meeting.

Kids – Explored, photograph © Tom Roeleveld / flickr

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June 10, 2019