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Diabetes in Children

Until recently, Type 1 diabetes was the common type of diabetes diagnosed in children and teens; however, young people are increasingly 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, 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 isn’t 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 health care team to develop a diabetes care plan that works for you.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes, but increases in the rate of child obesity have made it more common in young people. 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 who are black, Hispanic, Native American, Native Alaskan, Asian American or Pacific Islander) are also at a higher risk. There is good news, though! Type 2 diabetes can be managed by eating healthy food and being active.

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

You may be able to manage Type 2 diabetesthrough healthy eating and physical activity, or your doctor may prescribe medication such as insulin and/or other injectable or oral medications to help manage blood sugar and avoid complications. It’s also important to keep your blood pressure and cholesterolwithin the range prescribed by your doctor and get necessary screening tests (including kidney function test and dental and diabetic eye examinations).

Last updated April 17, 2019