POSTED: Tuesday, November 3, 2009 - 5:19pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 11:05am
TYLER-Diabetes used to be a disease that occurred in older adults, but now the tables have turned.
Once a true medical oddity, children with adult diabetes are becoming commonplace. And many doctors warn that as this large number of kids reach adulthood, serious complications will be a common trend.
Rachel Bradshaw, 16, has a lot to think about in the average day. If homework and friends weren't enough, she has to count her carbs, monitor her blood sugar, watch what she eats and take her insulin.
"I can't think about food unless I think about insulin so its hard," Bradshaw said. "I can't eat what everybody else eats."
Since age 11 when Bradshaw was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, this has been her reality.
"Every once in a while I'll cry about it, its hard sometimes," she said.
In fact today about one in every 440 children have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
Until this shift, almost all diabetes in children was Type 1.
On the other hand, Type 2 diabetes rarely occurred before middle age until now.
Doctors say obesity and lack of exercise have been the two leading factors in the number of diabetic children doubling, even tripling, in some parts of the country.
"We believe if they're having diabetes earlier, they may be having more of the diabetes complications earlier," Dr. Luis Casas of Trinity Mother Francis said.
Nevertheless, many doctors are convinced they see the leading edge of a dangerous shift.
The Diabetes Association recommends testing children for Type 2 diabetes if they are overweight and have two other risk factors, such as a parent with the disease, signs of insulin resistance or if they are Black, Hispanic or American Indian.