Diabetes in Children

Until recently, Type 1 diabetes was the common type of diabetes diagnosed in children and teens. However, young people increasingly are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is less common than Type 2 diabetes. Only about 5 percent of people with diabetes have Type 1.

Diabetes can be managed by following your doctor’s recommendations for a healthy lifestyle. This includes managing blood sugar, getting regular health checkups with your doctor, and learning other tips on how to manage diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes (previously called insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes) is usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults, but it can develop at any age.

If you have Type 1 diabetes, your pancreas is not making insulin or is making very little. Insulin is a hormone that enables blood sugar to enter the cells in your body where it can be used for energy. Without insulin, blood sugar can’t get into cells, so it builds up in the bloodstream. High blood sugar damages the body and causes many of the symptoms and complications of diabetes, if untreated.

Along with insulin and any other medicines you use, you can manage diabetes by taking care of your health. Follow a healthy eating plan, be physically active, and check your blood sugar, as prescribed by your doctor. Work with your healthcare team to develop a diabetes care plan that works for you.

Type 2 Diabetes 

Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes. It is now more common in young people because of the increased rate of child obesity. When a person has Type 2 diabetes, the body does not make or use insulin well.

Children have a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes if they are overweight or obese, have a family history of diabetes, or are inactive. Children in some groups (African American, Hispanic, Native American, Native Alaskan, Asian American, or Pacific Islander) also are at a higher risk. The good news is that Type 2 diabetes can be managed. 

Unlike many health conditions, diabetes is managed mostly by you, the patient, with support from your healthcare team.

You may be able to manage Type 2 diabetes through healthy eating and physical activity. Your doctor may prescribe medication such as insulin, or other injectable or oral medicines to help manage blood sugar and avoid complications. It is important to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol within the range prescribed by your doctor. Getting necessary screening tests (including kidney function tests, and dental and eye examinations) also are needed to help stay healthy.


View other resources and educational materials for children and adults.