Accurate data on the number of children with Type 2 diabetes is hard to find, but it will be easier to access in the future because the disease is being studied so closely. In the meantime, some early statistics and concepts are being published and becoming available to you.
How Many Kids Have Type 2?
No one wants to answer that yet. The study most frequently cited in the claims of massive increases in the number of kids with Type 2 is from a pharmaceutical company that ships Type 2 medications to patients. According to a study done by Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefits company, the number of children on medications for Type 1 rose 31 percent from 2002 to 2005, but the number of children on medication for Type 2 rose 104 percent during the same period. That statistic can be deceptive, since a vast majority of children are on medications for Type 1 rather than Type 2 (even though 104 percent of a small number sounds alarming, it may be statistically small compared to the Type 1 number). Still, it does show an increase and needs to be considered.
The Express Scripts study also reports that many children on Type 2 medications are taking them not because they currently have Type 2, but because they are deemed to be at risk for developing Type 2 in the near future.
As is the case with Type 1 diabetes, the Centers for Disease Control is attempting to assess the total number of children with diabetes. The CDC study should provide some real numbers in the near future.
The worrisome news is that, while they may have more of a chance to turn things around through diet and exercise, children with Type 2 seem to suffer complications at a high rate. This is partially because, like children with Type 1, their bodies are being subjected to the effects of high blood sugars from a younger age.
Also with Type 2 diabetes, some physicians suggest blood checks only twice a day; this allows blood sugars to remain elevated longer if they are up and thus permits damage to the body to occur sooner. Talk to your child's medical team about setting tougher standards of care for your child than most adults with Type 2 have. Ask for an A1c check every four months, just as a child with Type 1 would have. Remember that an A1c check is a long-term look at your child's blood sugar levels, so as long as your child's A1c is above normal (see Chapter 5 for more details on A1c levels), expect your child to check his blood sugar at least four times a day. It may be tempting to go easy on your child, but vigilance will pay off.