First-ever diabetes guidelines for children released

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diabetes guidelines

As more and more children are being classified as overweight, the need for childhood diabetes guidelines also grew. (Shutterstock photo)

The obesity epidemic has touched the lives of millions of adults in the United States and around the world. Children, however, have not been immune to it. Just like for adults, obesity puts children at a risk for  conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes. This, and the steady rise in diabetes cases, has prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics to issue the       first-ever set of diabetes guidelines for children.

“We’re seeing it much more [childhood diabetes] than we did before,” Dr. Janet Silverstein, co-author of the new American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines on diabetes and professor of pediatrics at the University of Florida, told TIME. “Many pediatricians were never trained in managing Type 2 because it just wasn’t a disease we used to see. It was a disease of adulthood. But as we’re seeing more obesity in kids, we’re seeing adult diseases in childhood.”

The new diabetes guidelines, published in the February issue of Pediatrics, address children between the ages of 10 and 18, and place an emphasis on increasing exercise time to 60 minutes a day and decreasing time spent in front of a television or computer to less than two hours a day. Nutrition is also an important aspect to prevent diabetes in children.

In the guidelines, doctors assessing pediatric diabetics are advised to immediately start the patient on insulin if there is a ketoacidosis or marked hyperglycemic issue or if the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes is not clear.

children

The new diabetes guidelines recommend children get at least 60 minutes of exercise daily. (Shutterstock photo)

Other recommendations include monitoring glucose levels with regular glucometer checks, starting the drug metformin, which helps restore the body’s natural response to insulin, and placement on a modified diet as developed by a dietician.

“For both children and adolescents, the bottom line is lifestyle changes if they are overweight; working on nutrition and working on activity, try to get them to eat healthier, smaller portion sizes, to increase activity to 60 minutes a day,” Silverstein told CNN. “No matter what medications we give, it won’t work unless there are other changes too.”

According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately one in every 400 children under the age of 20 has diabetes, with Hispanics having some of the highest prevalence rates in the country.

A study conducted by the University of Southern California found, not only is there a high rate of obesity and diabetes among the Hispanic population, Hispanic children are at a significant risk for pre-diabetes, a condition marked as having higher-than-normal blood glucose levels.

Pre-diabetes, according to experts, is something not addressed in the diabetes guidelines but it is an issue which is very important. Silverstein told WebMD pre-diabetes is more common in children than diabetes, and it is important for parents to be aware it is easier to prevent Type 2 Diabetes than it is to treat it.

The diabetes guidelines for children were written in consultation with the American Diabetes Association, the Pediatric Endocrine Society, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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