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Diabetes in Children

Diabetes in Children

Historically, the most common form of diabetes in children was that of type 1 diabetes. Today, this is not just the case. A new trend of type 2 diabetes in children is emerging as more children are eating unhealthy foods and engaging in fewer physical activities.

Type 2 diabetes was previously diagnosed in adults generally, while most children had type 1 diabetes. As there is no clear local data on the number of children with Type 2 diabetes, a 2017 report by the National Institute of Health shows the prevalence rate of the condition in the United States (US) increasing by 4.8 percent annually.

According to the report, 208,000 children aged below 20 years were diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The annual prevalence rate of Type 2 diabetes rose faster than type 1 diabetes which increases by 1.8 percent each year.

Back home in Kenya, Type 2 diabetes is due to unhealthy lifestyles leading to rise in obesity cases among young people. Research shows that Kenya has a 60 percent obesity prevalence among urban dwellers and about 20 percent among people living in rural areas. 

On a wider scale, the latest International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Atlas estimates that the prevalence of diabetes in both children and adults is likely to rise from the current 3.3 percent to 4.5 pc by 2025 in Kenya. 

Since there are challenges concerning the diagnosis, management and monitoring of diabetes in children and young adults, interventions need to be put in place to reduce the progression of the disease. Some of which include weight reduction among those living with obesity and identifying potential causes of increase in diabetes among children.

What is causing the increase in diabetes in children in Kenya?

From time to time, children have been afflicted with type 1 diabetes under unclear circumstances. Genetics and environmental however, factors may play a role. What is known for a fact is that the cause of type 1 diabetes in children is due to their immune system mistakenly destroying insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This form of diabetes is usually controlled through the administration of insulin in the form of injections to manage the disease.

On the other hand, type 2 diabetes in children is more aggressive in comparison to adults. The overall complications are higher, in that there is greater insulin resistance and more rapid deterioration of pancreatic beta cell function in comparison to adults with type 2 diabetes.

According to the Kenya National Diabetes Strategic Report, the growing trend of type 2 diabetes is mostly due to sedentary lifestyles, some of which lead to other conditions. According to WHO (World Health Organisation), childhood obesity has tripled over the past 50 years. Yet, excessive body weight among other key factors have been linked to rising cases of childhood type 2 diabetes in Kenya.

Unhealthy diet

Unhealthy eating habits and the high availability of fast foods has led to obesity among children. Most urban households are characterized by heavy intake of junk foods like French fries, pizza, and other processed foods. Children are also eating lots of sugary foods like cookies and cakes in the form of comfort foods and snacks for break-time hours in schools.

Less physical activities

Locally, it is not a big surprise to see the emerging trend of overweight children as most urban areas lack open space for them to engage in games. This is unlike the past when our grandparents walked one or a few kilometres to school.

Increased urbanization and technology in the country has also made it difficult for most children to engage in physical activities. In most cities, children play computer-generated games inside their houses while many more spending more hours watching television daily.

Overweight and obese children risk having high levels of sugar in the blood and high blood pressure that makes them vulnerable to developing diabetes.

Symptoms of diabetes in children

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children can mimic symptoms of other diseases. The subtle symptoms can go on for months before diagnosis. The most common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination, and even bed-wetting during sleep.
  • Extreme thirst and hunger.
  • Unintentional weight loss.
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Behavioural changes and irritability.
  • Fruity-smelling breath.

For type 2 diabetes, the symptoms may not be easily visible as for type 1 diabetes. However, parents may also start realizing their children drinking water frequently due to increased thirst and the frequency of urination per day.

As type 2 diabetes symptoms advance, some children may develop blurry vision due to higher blood sugar levels and experience fatigue. Their skins around the neck and armpits may also begin to darken usually before the condition develops. Other children may find themselves losing weight, though this symptom is very rare in type 2 diabetic children.

Nonetheless, these forms of diabetes can be prevented, managed and even reversed through the Afyacode diabetes reversal programs.

Prevention and treatment of diabetes in children

To prevent diabetes from advancing, it is important for parents to be on the lookout for the symptoms and seek early treatment. This would prevent serious complications associated with the disease. While maintaining a normal blood sugar level of less than 7mmoll/L is highly recommended, all efforts that will help prevent the children from the condition is highly encouraged.

This involves giving them healthy foods which include vegetables and grains and frequent check-ups. Other interventions include diabetes reversal programs based on low carbohydrate consumption. It can be of great benefit to children who are overweight or obese, have pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes. They would be encouraged to also focus on healthy fats and proteins, as well as incorporating increased physical activity into their daily routine.

The children might not be so comfortable during a change of diet. However; it would actually save their lives. Similarly, parents may ought to explore fun activities that will help their children burn fat much faster.

For further details on treatment of diabetes in children, you can get in touch with one of our specialists here at Afyacode.