The American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics are calling the alarming rise of type 2 diabetes among children an epidemic.
Type 2 diabetes usually develops in middle or old age, but now pediatricians are seeing type 2 in children as young as 4. Experts warn that more children will develop type 2 as the U.S. population becomes increasingly overweight. The trend has prompted both the ADA and the American Academy of Pediatrics to publish guidelines on the prevention, treatment and diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in children in the March issues of both Diabetes Care and Pediatrics.
According to Diabetes Dateline, children who are most susceptible have some or all of the following characteristics:
- Of African-American, Alaskan, Native American, Asian and Pacific Islander, or Hispanic descent
- Between ages 6 and 9 (according to the Diabetes Dateline); 10 or older (according to the ADA)
- Centrally distributed body fat (“apple-shaped” body). In an Arkansas study, 85 percent of 8- to 12-year-old type 2 African-American children had a body mass index (BMI)* of 25 or higher
- No recent weight loss
- No acute symptoms of hyperglycemia
- A family history of type 2 diabetes
- Have acanthosis nigricans (AN)-patches of brownish-black skin usually found on the back of the neck, in the armpits or on the thighs. This is usually indicative of high levels of insulin, making it type 2 diabetes rather than type 1. AN is especially common among Native Americans and less common in whites.
* The BMI is equal to a person’s body weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared.