More kids being diagnosed with adult onset diabetes



Posted on June 25, 2010 at 9:17 AM

Each year nearly 4,000 children are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.  Kids who develop it by age 9 typically require insulin by the time they reach age 18.

Sharon Berry was eager to have her son, Jake, take part in a study focused on kids and Type 2 diabetes.

"It was a big concern of mine. My family, on my father's side, has a history of diabetes," she said.

A Louisiana State University study is zeroing in on why the onset of Type 2 diabetes is trending younger and younger.
"It's not an adult disease anymore. It's not even a teen disease anymore. And if, if what I believe to be true, it's not even a school-age child disease anymore," said Clinical Exercise Physiologist Melinda Sothern, Ph.D.

For this study, healthy 7-to-9-year-olds have fat within muscle and liver cells measured. That fat can hamper insulin use.

"Their skeletal muscles become unable to use the insulin that the body produces, and the term for that is being insulin resistant,"said Sothern.

And while kids are heavier than ever, this fatty cell problem starts early.

"It's probably something that's happening, you know, while the child is developing in the womb. Its reinforced by poor nutrition early and lack of physical activity," Sothern added.

Doctor Sothern thinks teen girls will be a key part of the solution, since many will start families in their twenties, but need to get healthy first.

"They need to be educated that they need a healthy weight, that their weight can, during pregnancy, impact the baby," he said.

And focus on a future where kids have a lower risk of adult diabetes.  The study is still on-going.  The next phase will be to reconnect with children from this phase, and see how they fare in their teen years.