What Is the Difference Between Diabetes in Children and Diabetes in Adults?

There are two types of diabetes, and both children and adults can develop either type.Type 1 diabetes, also called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), requires the patient to receive insulin injections each day to keep his or her blood sugar level under control. It may develop after a viral or bacterial infection, or there could be another event that triggers an autoimmune response that destroys beta cells in the pancreas. When this happens, not enough insulin is produced as beta cells are required. Type 1 diabetes often runs in families and is genetically passed down from one generation to another. According to the American Diabetes Association, type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes rates in children are increasing.

Type 2 Diabetes in Children

Type 2 diabetes was once unheard of in children and adolescents, but today children are being diagnosed with this disease that once rarely struck anyone under the age of 40. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, only American Indians have had a statistically significant increase in type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents.

Researchers believe that increasing obesity rates and lack of physical exercise is causing type 2 diabetes rates to increase. Children with type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin and need injections of it every day, but kids with type 2 diabetes often respond to changes in diet, loss of extra weight, and exercise.

Cause of Type 2 Diabetes in Children and Adults

Both children and adults appear to develop type 2 diabetes and an elevated blood sugar level when they are obese, according to the American Diabetes Association. Some other risk factors for adolescents are puberty, intrauterine exposure to diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle, and being female.

Children who develop type 2 diabetes often have a family member with the disease, and 45-80 percent of these children have a parent with type 2 diabetes. Children often develop acanthosis nigricans on the skin at the neck and flexural areas that is caused by insulin resistance. About 60-90 percent of children with type 2 diabetes have this sign that is often a marker that the child has this disease.

Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes

The most common first course of treatment for both adults and children who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is a change of diet and an increase of exercise. This is regarded as being the best way to avoid cardiovascular risk in both groups. Children are not always prescribed medication and neither are adults.

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