Diabetes in children – a growing menace of modern time

Diabetes is a chronic disease which make the affected individual susceptible to lot many serious health complications in life, many of them can be causing increased morbidity and mortality.

Diabetes in children – a growing menace of modern time
In India, presently a total of 107 million adults have been diagnosed with T2DM. (File)

By Dr. Moumita Misra

Among the numerous health challenges of 21st century, diabetes has become the fastest growing one with number of adults living with diabetes getting tripled over last 20 years. Adding to the woe, diabetes among children, adolescents and young adults is rising alarmingly. India being the diabetic capital of world, childhood and adolescent diabetes is found here as well and the number is rising every day.

Diabetes is commonly categorized as type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Although children most commonly suffer from type 1 diabetes mellitus, recent studies have shown increasing incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus or pre-diabetic condition in children, adolescents, and young adults in India as well as globally.

The precise reason or triggering factor behind type 1 diabetes is still unknown. Studies show that genetic susceptibility, family history of type 1 diabetes, geography (Finland and Sweden have the highest incidence) etc may play role. Children suffering from type 1 diabetes develop defect in their immune system and as a result insulin producing cells in pancreas get damaged. Parents can help in early detection by observing the child for increased thirst, bed wetting in a toilet trained child, increased appetite, sudden weight loss, tiredness, irritability, fruity smelling breath etc. Once diagnosed, the treatment is lifelong intake of insulin injection daily.

Apart from childhood diabetes, children are now getting affected more and more with early onset adult type or type 2 diabetes. All over the world, studies are showing this alarming trend which is hard to ignore. There are several common risk factors associated with this trend and the most common yet most preventable one is obesity. Modern urban lifestyle with less physical activity, frequent intake of processed/ junk food, prolonged screen time, all are contributing to childhood obesity. Obesity is often associated with certain other conditions like metabolic syndrome (characterized by large waist size, high level of bad blood fat like triglyceride, low level of good cholesterol or HDL, high blood pressure etc) and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (seen in girls after puberty, characterized by hormonal imbalance with irregular menstruation, weight gain, increased body, and facial hair). Both these syndromes are known risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes in affected individual.

Family history plays a significant role as well. Children having one or both diabetic parents should be watched out closely for any symptom of diabetes. Pregnant women having pregnancy induced diabetes or gestational diabetes have more chance of having offspring developing type 2 diabetes. Similarly, prematurely born babies and low birth weight babies are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in later years.

A lot can be done to prevent the menace of diabetes among children by taking simple steps. As adults, we must create an environment of inculcating healthy habits among children from early age by encouraging them to take up sports and physical activity, discouraging fast food consumption, getting them closer to nature whenever possible and making them understand the importance of all these virtues. Along with that, taking proper care of pregnant women as a health care policy will also contribute significantly in ensuring a healthy child.

Diabetes is a chronic disease which make the affected individual susceptible to lot many serious health complications in life, many of them can be causing increased morbidity and mortality. This menace of modern time can be controlled easily with healthy and conscious lifestyle choices and create a generation full of positive impact.

(The author is a Head – Lab Operations, Mumbai, Metropolis Healthcare Limited. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and health professionals before starting any therapy, medication and/or remedy. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the

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First published on: 06-12-2022 at 08:00 IST