Diabetes Risk In Children

Diabetes Risk In Children
Insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes has been growing at an alarming rate in India. While we typically tend to think of diabetes as a disorder that comes with age, you might be surprised to know that children are also becoming victims of this chronic condition. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, the youth diabetes registry figures suggest that one in every four (25.3 percent) Indians under the age of 25 is afflicted with adult-onset type 2 diabetes. In India, around 97,000 children suffer from type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease, where the immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, leaving children painfully dependent on insulin injections for survival.

The cause

A majority of children are constantly glued to their gadgets and more often than not, parents or caregivers give their mobile phones or other gadgets to distract children or keep them occupied. Children are heavily dependent on computers and other electronic devices for entertainment and find very little time to spend outdoors. With little to no physical activity, there is an adverse impact on their physical and psychological well-being.

The symptoms

The signs and symptoms of both types of diabetes are similar among children and adults.  Persistent excessive thirst can be the result of diabetes. A child may feel thirsty quite often and will develop the tendency to drink more water than usual. Frequent urination may be one of the first signs of high blood sugar. When there is excess sugar in the blood, the kidneys have to work harder to absorb and filter it. This can result in frequent urination.

High blood sugar levels, either from a lack of the insulin hormone or from insulin resistance, can affect the body’s ability to get glucose from the blood into cells to meet the daily energy needs. When the body is not able to utilise blood sugar properly, this can result in fatigue, which is common in people with diabetes.

The prevention

Diabetes to a great extent is influenced by genes. Children with diabetic parents are prone to type 2 diabetes. However, while genes can play a role in the development of the disease, sedentary lifestyles and prolonged inactivity results in a higher risk for diabetes. Most of the parents do not know that children can get diabetes too. They ignore the symptoms seen in their children, which results in further complications. Type 2 diabetes in children can be evaded by avoiding weight gain and offering a balanced and nutritious diet to them from a young age.

Children, especially those with a family history of diabetes, should get regular health check-ups done and must follow an active lifestyle. They should spend a lot of time outdoors by engaging in physical activities like cycling, jogging, running, yoga, etc. Parents must encourage children to participate in outdoor games and sports and should also spend time with them in parks and playgrounds or motivate them to be part of activities that help in burning calories.