Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 In Children

What is diabetes mellitus type 2?

Diabetes mellitus type 2 is a disease that affects how your child's body uses glucose (sugar). Insulin helps move sugar out of the blood so it can be used for energy. Normally, when the blood sugar level increases, the pancreas makes more insulin. Type 2 diabetes develops because either the body cannot make enough insulin, or it cannot use the insulin correctly. After many years, your child's pancreas may stop making insulin.

What increases my child's risk of diabetes mellitus type 2?

Your child has a higher risk of type 2 diabetes if he is overweight, and at least 2 of the following are true:

  • Your child's mother has diabetes, or had diabetes while she was pregnant.

  • A member of your child's family has type 2 diabetes.

  • Your child is Native American, African American, Latino, Asian American or Pacific Islander.

  • Your child has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, acanthosis nigricans, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or was born smaller than normal.

What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes mellitus type 2?

Your child may have high blood sugar levels for a long time before symptoms appear:

  • More hunger or thirst than usual

  • Frequent urination

  • Weight loss without trying

  • Blurred vision

How is diabetes mellitus type 2 diagnosed?

Your child may need tests to check for type 2 diabetes mellitus by the time he is 10 years old.

  • Blood glucose test: A sample of your child's blood is tested for the amount of sugar it contains.

  • Fasting plasma glucose test: After your child has fasted for 8 hours, his blood sugar level is tested.

  • Oral glucose tolerance test: After your child has fasted for 8 hours, his blood sugar level is tested. He is then given a glucose drink. His blood sugar level is checked after 1 hour and again after 2 hours. Healthcare providers look at how much his blood sugar level increases from the first check.



  • A1c test: This blood test shows the average amount of sugar in your child's blood over the past 2 to 3 months.

How is diabetes mellitus type 2 treated?

Type 2 diabetes can be controlled. The goal is to help keep your child's blood sugar at a normal level. He must eat the right foods, and exercise regularly. He may also need to take medicine if he cannot control his blood sugar level with nutrition and exercise.

How do I check my child's blood sugar level?

You will be taught how to check a small drop of blood with a glucose monitor. You will need to check your child's blood sugar level at least 3 times each day if he is on insulin. Ask his healthcare provider when and how often to check during the day. Ask what your child's blood sugar levels should be before and after he eats. Write down the results and show them to your child's healthcare provider. He may use the results to make changes to your child's medicine, food, or exercise schedules.


What should my child eat?

A dietitian will help you create a meal plan that will help your child keep his blood sugar level under control. Do not let your child skip meals. His blood sugar level can get too low if he takes diabetes medicine and does not eat.

  • Keep track of carbohydrates (sugar and starchy foods): Your child's blood sugar level can get too high if he eats too many carbohydrates. His dietitian will help you plan meals and snacks that have the right amount of carbohydrates.

  • Offer low-fat and low-sodium foods: Examples of low-fat foods are lean meat, fish, skinless poultry (chicken and turkey), and low-fat milk. Limit foods that are high in sodium, such as soy sauce, potato chips, and soup. Do not add salt to food you cook. Limit your child's use of table salt.

  • Offer high-fiber foods: Foods that are a good source of fiber include vegetables, whole grain bread, and beans.

How can my child's diabetes be managed?

  • Keep all follow-up appointments: Your child's healthcare provider may want him to have additional tests to check his blood pressure, cholesterol, and A1c.

  • Medicines: Make sure your child takes his insulin and other medicines as directed.

  • Exercise: Exercise can help keep your child's blood sugar level steady. Have your child exercise for at least 60 minutes on most days of the week. Work with your child's healthcare provider to create an exercise plan. Your child may need a carbohydrate snack before, during, or after he exercises if he is taking diabetes medicine or insulin. If his blood sugar level is less than 100 mg/dL, give him a carbohydrate snack before exercise. Examples are 4 to 6 crackers, ½ banana, 8 ounces (1 cup) of milk, or 4 ounces (½ cup) of juice.

  • Limit computer time: Do not allow your child to use the computer for more than 2 hours a day, unless it is for schoolwork.

  • Weight loss: Ask healthcare providers if your child needs to lose weight, and how much to lose. Ask them to help you and your child create a weight loss program.

What other care will my child need for diabetes mellitus type 2?

  • Medical alert identification: Make sure your child always wears medical alert jewelry or carries a card that says he has diabetes. Ask your child's healthcare provider where to get these items.

  • Talk to officials at your child's school: Make sure your child's teachers know your child has diabetes. Provide written instructions about what to do if your child has symptoms of high or low blood sugar levels at school.

  • No smoking: Cigarette smoke can worsen the problems that occur with diabetes. Do not smoke around your child, and do not let others smoke around him. Do not let your child smoke. Ask your child's healthcare provider for information about how to stop smoking if you need help quitting.

  • Pregnancy education: If you have an older daughter who has diabetes, explain the risk of problems when diabetes is poorly managed. Ask her healthcare provider for more information about diabetes, birth control, and pregnancy.

  • Vaccines: Diabetes can put your child at risk of serious illness if he gets the flu or pneumonia. Ask your child's healthcare provider if your child should get a flu or pneumonia vaccine, and when to get the vaccine.

What are the risks of diabetes mellitus type 2 in children?

  • Uncontrolled diabetes can damage your child's nerves, veins, and arteries. High blood sugar levels may damage other body tissue and organs over time, such as your child's eyes and kidneys. Diabetes is life-threatening if it is not controlled.

  • Even with treatment, your child may be at an increased risk of thyroid or Celiac disease.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • Your child is vomiting or has diarrhea.

  • Your child has an upset stomach and is not eating the foods on his meal plan.

  • Your child feels weak or more tired than usual.

  • Your child feels dizzy, has headaches, or gets easily irritated.

  • Your child has numbness in his arms or legs.

  • Your child's skin is red, warm, dry, or swollen.

  • Your child has a wound that does not heal.

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • Your child has blurred or double vision.

  • Your child has trouble staying awake or focusing.

  • Your child is shaking or sweating.

  • Your child's breath has a fruity, sweet smell.

  • Your child's breathing is deep and labored, or rapid and shallow.

  • Your child's heartbeat is fast and weak.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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