Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (a hormone that helps the body use sugar for energy) or the body does not effectively use the insulin that is produced—or a combination of both. The inability to produce or use the body's insulin causes high blood sugar. In children, Type 2 diabetes often occurs around puberty.
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The good news is your diabetes can be treated. There are a few things you’ll need to do, and your parents and your diabetes team can help you.Diabetes educator
The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes may include:
- Frequent urination
- Frequent thirst
- Unexplained weight loss (particularly in an overweight child)
- Persistent infections
Diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes
Children with Type 2 diabetes often show no symptoms of the condition. For this reason, the primary care provider must look for risk factors that can lead to Type 2 diabetes. The most common risk factors include obesity and a family history of Type 2 diabetes. A doctor can use the following blood tests to make a diagnosis:
- Hemoglobin A1c. A hemoglobin A1c blood test provides your child's average blood sugar levels over a period of two to three months. High levels of A1c are a sign of poor blood sugar control and indicate the presence of diabetes.
- Random blood sugar test. A blood sugar test is performed at a random time. A normal result is based on when your child last ate.
- Fasting blood sugar test. A fasting blood sugar test measures your child's blood sugar levels after he or she has not had anything to eat or drink (except plain water) for at least eight hours.
Treatment for Type 2 diabetes includes:
- Insulin injections. Fifty percent of children diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes require insulin. Insulin can be given with syringes, insulin pens or an insulin pump. Parents or guardians should help young children with their insulin injections. As children get older, they can learn to inject themselves.
- Medicines. Several medicines are available to treat Type 2 diabetes in children. The medicines work in different ways. Some decrease insulin resistance while others increase insulin production. There are also medicines that slow the absorption of carbohydrates.
- Diabetes management. Diabetes management involves a lifestyle change. You or your child will test his or her blood sugar several times a day using a blood glucose meter and record the results in a logbook. Your child should also follow a meal plan, making sure to eat three meals and possibly a few snacks each day. If your child takes insulin, it is important to count the number of carbohydrates eaten at meal and snack times so the appropriate amount of insulin can be given. In addition, getting enough exercise and reducing stress will help your child's body use insulin. As your child gets older, he or she will learn to manage the condition independently with your continued supervision.
- Continued monitoring by your child's healthcare team. The diabetes specialists at Riley at IU Health recommend your child see his or her healthcare team every three to four months for continued health monitoring. The following health evaluations are performed during these visits:
- Growth and weight gain. Your child's height and weight are plotted on a growth chart at each visit to monitor his or her growth. Children whose diabetes is in control should grow normally.
- Hemoglobin A1c test. The same blood test that is used to diagnose diabetes is also used to keep track of your child's average blood sugar levels after diagnosis. This test will be done each time your child visits the doctor.
- Thyroid function test. Children with Type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk for developing thyroid conditions. A test to check if your child's thyroid is functioning normally will be performed every two years.
- Cholesterol test. High blood glucose levels can affect cholesterol levels. High cholesterol levels can contribute to heart disease. Your child's cholesterol levels will be checked every four years—more often if they are high.
- Urine microalbumin test. High blood sugar concentrations over a long period of time can result in the thickening of kidney membranes. When this happens, protein abnormally leaks into the urine. Once your child turns 10 or has had diabetes for five years, a urine microalbumin test is performed each year to monitor for signs of kidney problems.
- Liver enzyme test. High blood sugar concentrations over a long period of time can result in liver problems. Your child’s liver enzymes will be checked yearly or more often if needed.
- Blood pressure check. Children with Type 2 diabetes are at increased risk for developing high blood pressure at a young age. Your child’s blood pressure will be checked at each clinic visit.
- Dental exam. High blood sugar can predispose children to periodontal disease. Although all children should have their teeth examined every six months, this is especially important for children with Type 2 diabetes.
- Eye exam. Long periods of high blood sugar can damage the tiny vessels in the eyes leading to poor vision. Children with Type 2 diabetes should see an ophthalmologist at least once a year.
- Yearly influenza vaccine. Influenza can make diabetes management very difficult and can result in emergency room visits or hospitalization. The physicians at Riley at IU Health recommend that all patients with Type 2 diabetes and their family members receive a yearly seasonal influenza (flu) vaccine.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that will require lifelong treatment and management.
Key Points to Remember
Key Points to Remember
- In children with Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin and/or the body cannot effectively use the insulin.
- Children with Type 2 diabetes may show no symptoms of the condition.
- Treatment for Type 2 diabetes may include medicine or insulin as well as lifestyle modification.
- Children with Type 2 diabetes may be old enough to manage their medicines and give themselves insulin injections. However, parents or other adult caregivers should still supervise their care.
Support Services & Resources
Support Services & Resources
Visit the links below to learn more about Type 2 diabetes and discover support groups and resources.
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
The official website of the American Diabetes Association provides in-depth information about living with Type 2 diabetes and connects patients and families to local American Diabetes Association offices and events.
This federally-funded program is working to improve treatment and outcomes for people with diabetes and provides comprehensive resources about the condition on its website.
Type 2 Diabetes Research
Type 2 Diabetes Research
Our pediatric endocrinologists are involved in multiple local and national research studies for diabetes. These studies are looking for new information and treatments that will improve the lives of people with Type 2 diabetes. Many of these studies require patient and/or family participation. Your child's doctor can provide more information about eligibility and the pros and cons of participating in a research study.
In addition to our primary hospital location at the Academic Health Center in Indianapolis, IN, we have convenient locations to better serve our communities throughout the state.
Sort through 94 facilities offering Type 2 Diabetes care by entering your city or zip below.
Departments Treating This Condition
Diabetes & Endocrinology 2021-2022 School Order Forms
The Diabetes & Endocrinology Department at Riley Children's Health provides the following forms and resources for parents, healthcare providers and school personnel.Continue reading