June 29, 2017
Adult Onset Diabetes In Obese Toddler -- Is This Child Abuse?

A three-year-old Texas toddler represents the youngest known case of adult onset diabetes. The discovery has some medical professionals declaring it a sign that global obesity trends are getting worse.

Medical Daily reports the unnamed Hispanic toddler was brought to the pediatric endocrinology clinic at the University of Texas Health Science Center. According to Dr. Michael Yafi, the little girl's family brought the toddler to the clinic to learn if she was obese. Placing the child on a scale revealed a shocking 77-pound weight. Despite being three, she weighed nearly as much as the average 11-year-old child.

But her weight wasn't the only concern.

The toddler complained of frequent thirst and urination. Testing showed the girl had "high levels of blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c", which meant the toddler was diabetic. Tests for Type 1 diabetes, a "congenital condition where the body can't produce insulin", were negative. Doctors determined the child represented the youngest known case of adult onset diabetes.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Dr. Yafi intends to present a report on the shocking case at the annual European Association for the Study of Diabetes meeting in Stockholm, Sweden. In the report, he discusses the likely cause of the toddler's adult onset diabetes and her excessive weight.
"[Evidence suggests] poor family nutritional habits with uncontrolled counting of calories and fat."
Because someone so young is reliant on her parent or parents to make nutritional decisions, some have wondered if cases like this are a form of child abuse. Recently, Puerto Rico caused an uproar among parents on the island after it was suggested that parents of obese and morbidly obese children be fined for child abuse. The controversial bill has yet to become law, but as childhood obesity becomes a matter of increasing concern, it's likely that drastic measures will earn serious consideration.As for the unnamed toddler with adult onset diabetes, Medical Daily reports that there was a "happy ending" to this particular situation. Once doctors determined the young child's health concerns, they prescribed her metformin (500 mg per day). Doctors also instructed her family to put her on a diet while encouraging increased physical activity.

Within half a year, the toddler experienced a 75 percent decrease in weight. Her success meant she was no longer required to take medicine. Dr. Yafi explained, "Reversal of type 2 diabetes in children is possible by early screening of obese children, early diagnosis, appropriate therapy and lifestyle modification."

Parents who suspect their children may be obese or unhealthy are strongly advised to seek professional medical advice as soon as possible. Early diagnosis could mean effective treatment options are available. Failure to get proper medical help could lead to negative health consequences for the toddler or child such as adult onset diabetes.

[Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images]