Adolescent diabetes is more aggressive


Type 2 diabetes differs from Type 1. Type 1 usually refers to the disease that shows up in less than 10% of all cases of diabetes. It used to be called Juvenile Diabetes. In the past, Type 2 was a term reserved for adults with abnormal blood glucose readings.

The number of adolescents with Type 2 diabetes has been increasing. Another name for this is Mature Onset Diabetes in Youth or MODY.

Medical practitioners have become more concerned with the growing numbers of young people developing Type 2 diabetes. There are children as young as 4 years old with Type 2 diabetes. This is different from Type 1.

Increasing weight, inactivity and stressful living environments along with a hereditary tendency trigger consistent abnormal blood glucose levels. The warning period of prediabetes is usually not recognized by parents, teachers and physicians.

Children with Type 2 diabetes are treated with medication, a lifestyle change, consistent exercise, and a modified meal plan. The dynamics of these many changes must affect the entire family. More often than not, therapeutic changes fall short.

A nationally recognized study of adolescents with Type 2 diabetes revealed some surprising data that urgently requires additional research. The life span and the quality of life of these youngsters are in jeopardy.

Type 2 diabetes is more aggressive in adolescents that in adults. By the time those with MODY reach their 25 birthday, they must deal with disease-related complications commonly seen in older people.

Researchers from the Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora now have the first-ever true comparison of outcomes in the youth versus adults. The disease is more aggressive in the young than in adults.

Data disclosed that a more aggressive breakdown in pancreatic function occurs for younger patients. This results in severe complications by their early 20s.

Organ damage and serious cardiovascular events are occurring. Heart failure, arrhythmia, coronary artery disease, stroke and vascular insufficiency are prevalent with Type 2 diabetes adolescents within the first 10 years of this disease.

More maternal complications occur and the babies also face additional complications. An increase of miscarriages, preterm births and offspring outcomes are worse in mothers with Type 2 diabetes at a young age.

Serious eye problems are on the rise as well. The prevalence of diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage also increases. There are more amputations caused by poor healing wounds with Mature Onset Diabetes in Youth.

A decline in kidney function and renal disease is common in Type 2 adults but is now more aggressive when Type 2 diabetes develops during childhood. Researchers are finding that children and adolescents with Type 2 diabetes have problems that are expected in their grandparents within 10 years of diagnosis.

These research outcomes can be turned around. Some doctors are relying on stomach reduction surgery. Family dynamics and behavioral changes must change to address this growing problem.

A family history of diabetes, limited exercise, excessive empty calories resulting in obesity and a stressful situation are all triggers for Type 2 in adolescents. Talk to the doctor for more information.


Bobbie Randall

Contributing columnist

Bobbie Randall is a registered, licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator in Wooster, Ohio. Contact her at [email protected].

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