Can a child have type 2 diabetes? +info

Type 2 diabetes can develop in anyone, including children. In the past, the medical community referred to type 2 diabetes as either adult-onset or non-insulin dependent diabetes.

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In type 2 diabetes, your body’s cells aren’t able to respond to insulin as well as they should. In later stages of the disease, your body may also not produce enough insulin.

Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes can lead to chronically high blood glucose levels, causing several symptoms and potentially leading to serious complications.



Type 2 diabetes in children

Type 2 diabetes in children is a growing problem. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), around 193,000 Americans under age 20 have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. One study found that the incidence of type 2 diabetes in youth has increased to about 5,000 new cases per year. Another study showed a significant increase, particularly in minority races and ethnic groups.


The reasons for this are complex, but risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

  • being overweight, or having a body mass index above the 85th percentile
  • having a birth weight of 9 pounds or more
  • being born to a mother who had diabetes while she was pregnant
  • having a close family member with type 2 diabetes
  • having a sedentary lifestyle
  • being African-American, Hispanic American, Asian-American, Native American, or a Pacific Islander

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes in children are the same as those in adults. They include:

  • excessive thirst or hunger
  • increased urination
  • sores that are slow to heal
  • frequent infections
  • fatigue
  • blurry vision
  • areas of darkened skin

See your child’s doctor immediately if they have these symptoms.


In 2018, the ADA recommended that all children who are overweight and have additional diabetes risk factors be tested for prediabetes or type 2. Untreated diabetes can lead to serious and even life-threatening complications.

A random blood glucose test may reveal high blood glucose levels. A hemoglobin A1C test can provide more information about average blood glucose levels over a few months. Your child may also need a fasting blood glucose test.

If your child is diagnosed with diabetes, then their doctor will need to determine if it’s type 1 or type 2 before suggesting a specific treatment.

You can help lower your child’s risk by encouraging them to eat well and to be physically active every day. Get more information on type 2 diabetes, its effect on children, and how it’s becoming so common in this group that it’s no longer known as adult-onset diabetes.





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