Skip to Content

Type 2 Diabetes in Children


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


Call you local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • Your child has a seizure or cannot be woken.
  • Your child's heartbeat is fast and weak.
  • Your child's breath has fruity, sweet smell.
  • Your child has a low blood sugar level and it does not improve with treatment.

Call your child's doctor or care team if:

  • Your child's blood sugar levels are high after several checks.
  • Your child's blood sugar level does not lower with extra insulin.
  • Your child often has blood sugar levels that are too low.
  • Your child has abdominal pain, diarrhea, or is vomiting.
  • Your child has numbness in his or her arms or legs.
  • Your child has warm, red patches of skin or a wound that does not heal.
  • Your child is anxious or depressed.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


  • Medicines , such as insulin, oral or injectable diabetes medicines, may be given to decrease your child's blood sugar levels.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Diabetes education:

Diabetes education will start right away. Members of your child's team will teach you and your child the following:

  • How to check your child's blood sugar level: You and your child will learn what his or her blood sugar level should be. You will be given information on when to check your child's blood sugar level. You will learn what to do if his or her level is too high or too low. Write down the times of your checks and your child's levels. Take them to all follow-up appointments.
  • About oral and injectable diabetes medicines: You and your child will learn the best times to take the medicine. You will also learn how and where the injectable medicine should be placed. You and your child will be taught how to dispose of needles after use.
  • About insulin: You, your child, and your family members will be taught how to draw up and give insulin. You will learn how much insulin your child needs and what time to inject insulin. You will be taught when not to give insulin. You will also be taught how to dispose of needles and syringes.
  • About nutrition: A dietitian will help you make a meal plan to keep your child's blood sugar level steady. You will learn how food affects your child's blood sugar levels. You will also learn to keep track of sugar and starchy foods (carbohydrates). Do not let your child skip meals. Blood sugar levels may drop too low if your child has received insulin and does not eat.
  • Exercise and diabetes: You and your child will learn why physical activity, such as exercise, is important. A plan will be made for your child's activity. A goal of 60 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity every day will be in the plan. Your child can choose from brisk walking, dancing, running, or jumping rope. The provider will also recommend flexibility and resistance training, which may include yoga and lifting weights.
    Family Walking for Exercise
  • How to manage blood sugars when your child is sick: Blood sugar levels can be too high or too low when your child is sick. Your child's care team will give you information about managing your child's diabetes during sick days.

Nutrition for your child:

A dietitian will help you and your child create a meal plan. The plan will help keep your child's blood sugar level steady. Help your child make the best choices when choosing foods. The following are tips to help you to start helping with your child's nutrition:

  • Keep track of carbohydrates (sugar and starchy foods). Your child's blood sugar level can get too high if he or she eats too many carbohydrates. His or her dietitian will help you plan meals and snacks that have the right amount of carbohydrates. Here is an example to help you plan your child's meals before meeting with a dietitian:
    Plate Method
  • Give your child low-fat and low-sodium foods. Examples of low-fat foods are lean meat, fish, skinless chicken or turkey, and low-fat milk. Limit high-sodium foods, such as potato chips and soup. Do not add salt to food you cook. Limit your child's use of table salt.

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

Talk to your child's care team if you or your child become stressed about diabetes care:

Learning about diabetes care can be stressful. The stress can cause your child not to want to help in his or her own care. The stress can also cause you to feel overwhelmed. Your child's care team can help by offering tips about self-care. The care team may suggest you and your child talk to a mental health provider. The provider can listen and offer help with self-care issues and feelings of being overwhelmed. You and your child may choose to see the provider at separate times. You and child may, instead, choose to see the provider together.

Medical alert identification:

Make sure your child always wears medical alert jewelry or carries a card that says he or she has diabetes. Ask your child's care team provider where to get these items.

Medical Alert Jewelry

Give directions to your child's school and care providers:

Make sure your child's teachers and care providers know he or she has diabetes. Provide written instructions about what to do if your child has symptoms of high or low blood sugar levels at school.

Do not smoke around your child:

Do not let others smoke around him or her. Do not let your older child smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung and heart damage. Cigarette smoke can worsen the problems that occur with diabetes. Ask your child's care team provider for information if you or child currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your care team provider before you or your child use these products.

Bring your child in for screenings as directed:

Your child will need to be screened for complications of diabetes and other conditions that may develop. Examples include kidney problems, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, blood vessel problems, eye problems, and eating disorders. Some screenings may begin right away and some may happen within the first 5 years of diagnosis. Your child will need to continue screenings through his or her lifetime. Keep your child's follow-up appointments with all providers.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Your child will need to return to have his or her A1c checked. The care team will make sure that treatment is working. Your child's treatment may need to be adjusted. Write down questions that you and your child have so you remember to ask them during his or her visits.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 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 IBM Watson Health

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.

Learn more about Type 2 Diabetes in Children (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex Guides (External)

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.