MONDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) -- For the first time ever, the
American Academy of Pediatrics has issued guidelines for the
management of type 2 diabetes in children and teenagers aged 10 to
Until recently, pediatricians have mostly had to deal with type
1 diabetes, which has a different cause and usually a different
management than type 2 diabetes. But, today, due largely to the
rise in childhood obesity, as many as one in three children
diagnosed with diabetes has type 2.
"Pediatricians and pediatric endocrinologists are used to dealing with type 1 diabetes. Most have had no formal training in the care of children with type 2," said one of the authors of the new guidelines, Dr. Janet Silverstein, division chief of pediatric endocrinology at the University of Florida, in Gainesville.
"The major reason for the guidelines is that there's been an increase in overweight and obesity in children and adolescents, with more type 2 diabetes in that population, making it important for general pediatricians, as well as endocrinologists to have structured guidelines to follow," she said.
For example, it can be very difficult to distinguish immediately
whether or not a child has type 1 or type 2 diabetes, especially if
a child is overweight. The only way to tell for sure is a test for
islet antibodies. Because type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease,
a child or teen with type 1 will have islet antibodies that destroy
the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. But, it can take weeks
to get the results of these tests, according to Silverstein.
Weight doesn't play a role in the development of type 1
diabetes, but it's possible that someone with type 1 could be
overweight, making an immediate diagnosis of the type of diabetes
very hard. If someone with type 1 diabetes is mistakenly diagnosed
with type 2 diabetes, and given oral medications -- such as
metformin -- instead of the insulin they must have, they can get
very sick, very quickly.
That's why the first new guideline is to start a child or teen
on insulin if it's at all unclear whether a child has type 1 or
type 2 diabetes. The guideline further recommends that they
continue using insulin until the diabetes type can be definitively
Other key guidelines include the following:
"There's a need for type 2 guidelines in the pediatric population, and I think the new guidelines are good. But, there are a lot of unanswered questions," said Dr. Rubina Heptulla, chief of the division of pediatric endocrinology and diabetes at Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York City.
"There's really only one large study on type 2 diabetes and children. These guidelines are a first step, and they highlight the critical need for more research," Heptulla said. For her part, Silverstein agreed that more well-designed research is needed.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates
that about 3,600 children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes
every year, so pediatricians need to be aware that they may begin
seeing children with type 2 in their practices.
Silverstein said that pediatricians should monitor HbA1C levels
in overweight children, because it's much easier to prevent the
disease than to treat it after it has occurred.
Type 1 diabetes tends to cause excessive thirst and frequent
urination, but Silverstein said these symptoms aren't always
present or as evident in children with type 2. If children have
urethritis (inflammation of the tube that drains the bladder) or
yeast infections in girls, doctors should consider testing their
blood sugar levels.
The new guidelines were published online Jan. 28 and in the
February print issue of
Learn more about preventing type 2 diabetes from the
U.S. National Diabetes Education Program.
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