Is your child at risk for type 2 diabetes?

Karen Miller | 4/15/2014, 6 a.m.
Type 2 diabetes is no longer an illness for adults only. Fuelled by the surge in obesity in this country, ...

It wasn’t that long ago when the two most common types of diabetes were more clearly delineated. Type 1 occurred in the young, and type 2 in adults. But those days have changed ― and unfortunately, not for the better. Though still generally rare in children, type 2 diabetes is now on the rise in pre-adolescents and teens.

One of the reasons for the rise is the nation’s weight problem. The National Diabetes Education Program, a partnership of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, warns that the increased incidence of type 2 diabetes in children is a “first consequence” of the obesity epidemic among young people.

And this is not good news for children of color. The SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study Group, a population-based study to assess the prevalence of diabetes in youth under the age of 20, found that type 2 diabetes is more common in blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asian-American kids.

In its 2014 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends testing in certain asymptomatic children.

Ask the right questions … for your child’s sake

  1. Is your child overweight or obese? Go to http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/dnpabmi to calculate the BMI for age and gender.
  2. Is there a family history ― parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt or uncle ― of diabetes?
  3. Did the mother have gestational diabetes during her pregnancy with the child?
  4. Is your child African American, Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islander or Native American?
  5. Does your child have high blood pressure or other condition associated with insulin resistance, such as dark patches of skin, abnormal cholesterol, or polycystic ovarian syndrome?


Is it a dirty neck or a sign of diabetes? One of the signs of type 2 diabetes is increased pigmentation (acanthosis nigricans) in body folds and creases. Common sites are armpits, groin and neck.

If the BMI is above the 85th percentile and you answered ”yes” to at least two of questions 2 to 5, your child may be at risk. Talk to the pediatrician about testing for type 2 diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association recommends testing for type 2 diabetes in asymptomatic children beginning at age 10 or at puberty if it occurs earlier than 10. Testing should be repeated every three years.

Which tests and what do they mean? The doctor may order one or more of the following:


Type 2 Diabetes test

Test Normal Pre-diabetes Diabetes
Fasting blood glucose (mg/dl) Less than 100 100 to 125 126 or greater
Oral glucose tolerance (mg/dl) Less than 140 140 to 199 200 or greater
A1C (%) Less than 5.7 5.7 to 6.4 6.5 or greater