Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes in the United States. The number of children and teens developing Type 2 diabetes has been on the rise for the past few decades. This disorder happens when the body is unable to make enough insulin or does not metabolize insulin correctly. Without the appropriate amount in insulin, our bodies cannot move glucose (blood sugar) into cells.

While the cause of Type 2 diabetes is unknown, it may run in families. A child may need another factor, such as being overweight or inactivity, to develop the condition.

The board-certified and fellowship-trained physicians, nurse practitioners and dietitians with Norton Children’s Endocrinology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, treat more kids with Type 2 diabetes each year than any other provider in Louisville.

In 2022, physicians voted our pediatric diabetes and endocrinology program as No. 16 in the country in the U.S. News & World Report Best Children’s Hospitals rankings. The list ranks children’s hospitals for treating diabetes and endocrine disorders, including management of conditions such as diabetes, weight disorders and thyroid disorders.

Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors

These factors can put a child at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes:

  • Age (risk increases with age)
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Being part of a racial or ethnic group that is more likely to develop the condition, including Latinos, African Americans and Native Americans
  • Being overweight
  • Inactivity (not exercising or getting enough movement during the day)
  • Low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels (HDL is the “good cholesterol”)
  • High triglyceride levels

Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms

Each child can experience Type 2 diabetes symptoms differently, but some of the more common symptoms include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Dry skin
  • Going to the bathroom frequently
  • Feeling extremely hungry and losing weight
  • Feeling thirsty all the time
  • Frequent infections that are
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • High blood sugar levels
  • High levels of sugar in the urine
  • Irritability and mood issues
  • Tingling or losing feeling in hands or feet

Some children may not show symptoms. Type 2 diabetes also can resemble other medical issues, so talk to your child’s pediatrician about any changes you notice in your child.

Type 2 Diabetes Testing and Diagnosis

Depending on your child’s symptoms, your child’s pediatrician may do blood tests to understand:

  • If your child currently has high blood sugar
  • If your child has had high blood sugar over the past three months (A1C, the common name for hemoglobin A1C)

Type 2 Diabetes Treatments

If your child is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, their pediatrician may refer you to a pediatric endocrinologist. A pediatric endocrinologist will work with you to develop a unique treatment plan for your child. Type 2 diabetes treatment is focused on helping the child keep blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible. This will include blood sugar monitoring, physical activity, focus on diet and regular checkups.

Treatments may include:

  • Exercise program
  • Diet with focus on weight control
  • Insulin replacement therapy
  • Oral and/or other injectable medications aimed to improve blood sugar levels

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