A 3-year-old girl has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, making her one of the youngest people ever to contract the disease, which has been linked to diet and obesity.
According to the Guardian, the girl is from a Hispanic family and lives in Houston, Texas. She was brought to the clinic of Dr. Michael Yafi, a pediatric endocrinologist with the University of Texas, because she was obese, weighing in at 77 pounds. For comparison, most children her age weigh an average of 35 pounds. Though the girl’s parents are both overweight, her medical history showed no signs of risk for diabetes, yet she exhibited excessive urination and thirst.
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After reviewing the 3-year-old’s diet, doctors found that the family followed poor nutritional habits, ingesting uncontrolled amounts of calories and fat. Though she was born at just seven pounds, the three-year-old ranked in the top 5 percent for height and body mass index (BMI) when compared to children her age. Tests suggested to doctors that the girl was suffering from diabetes, but they were able to rule out type 1, which often strikes during childhood.
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According to doctors, the number of children afflicted with type 2 diabetes has risen sharply worldwide, and their cases are closely linked to childhood obesity.
“The incidence of T2DM [type 2 diabetes] has increased dramatically worldwide in children due to the epidemic of child obesity. Clinicians should be aware of the possibility of type 2 diabetes even in very young obese children, although, of course, type 1 diabetes can also still occur in obese children and is in fact much more common in young children than type 2 diabetes.”
The 3-year-old girl was given metformin, an oral drug prescribed for type 2 diabetes, and her family underwent nutritional training, as CBS News reports. Over the course of six months of treatment (during which the drugs were gradually reduced), the girl was able to lose 25 percent of her body weight, and her blood glucose levels were brought back to normal levels. As Yafi pointed out, her diagnosis did not mean she couldn’t be treated.
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“Reversal of type 2 diabetes in children is possible by early screening of obese children, early diagnosis, appropriate therapy and lifestyle modification.”
Proper identification of type 2 diabetes in children is key, Yafi noted, since early therapies stand the best chance of reversing the effects of the disease.