Percentage Of Diabetic Children Increasing, But Earlier Treatment Could Be Beneficial
June 10, 2012

Percentage Of Diabetic Children Increasing, But Earlier Treatment Could Be Beneficial

While one group of Colorado-based researchers has discovered that more children in the United States are at risk for diabetes than they were a decade ago, another may have discovered part of the solution -- more aggressive treatment of the condition known as pre-diabetes.

According to a June 9 report by HealthDay's Serena Gordon, experts have discovered that in 2001, approximately 189,000 people under the age of 20 had diabetes. Of those, approximately 168,000 had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and just under 20,000 were type 2 diabetic.

By 2009, those results had increased by 23% for type 1 diabetes and 21% for type 2 diabetes, Gordon added.

"Both types of diabetes are increasing," study co-author Dr. Dana Dabelea, the associate dean for faculty affairs at the University of Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora, told HealthDay. "For type 2, we have some clues as to why it's increasing, but for type 1, we still need to better understand the triggers of this disease."

"The study also found that children with type 2 were more likely to have protein in their urine than children with type 1 diabetes, suggesting that they might be at greater risk for early kidney damage," Gordon added. "Youngsters with both types of diabetes also showed early indications of damage to the nerve system that regulates the heart and its blood vessels, according to the study."

Furthermore, the study, which was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and presented during the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association on Saturday, revealed that diabetic children who watched more than three hours of television each day were worse at controlling their blood sugar and had higher triglyceride levels than other diabetic youngsters.

In a related study published Saturday in the British medical journal The Lancet, researchers from the US Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group discovered that people with "pre-diabetes" (i.e. those who have elevated blood sugar levels that had not yet reached diabetic levels) could benefit by reducing those blood sugar levels back to the normal range.

Adopting an "early and aggressive" treatment plan to restore regular blood sugar levels more than halved the risk that the disease would ultimately go on to become full-blown type 2 diabetes, BBC News reported on Saturday.

The study followed nearly 2,000 pre-diabetic people, some of which were treated with medication or lifestyle changes and some of which received no such treatment. Over the course of six years, those who addressed their elevated blood sugar levels were 56% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, the British news organization said.

"This analysis draws attention to the significant long-term reduction in diabetes risk when someone with pre-diabetes returns to normal glucose regulation, supporting a shift in the standard of care to early and aggressive glucose-lowering treatment in patients at highest risk," lead author Dr Leigh Perreault of the University of Colorado told the BBC.

Dr. Natalia Yakubovich from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario added, "Identification of regression to normal glucose regulation could be an important way to stratify people into those at higher and lower risk of progression to diabetes“¦ Such stratification could therefore identify individuals for whom additional treatment might be needed to prevent diabetes or to slow down disease progression."