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Diabetes and Your Kids

- Could your kid have diabetes? There are an estimated 5 million undiagnosed cases in the U.S. right now. In Wednesday's HealthWatch segment, The Early Show's Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay traced the warning signs and discussed a new kid-friendly treatment that is being tested.

Type I and Type II Diabetes

Type I occurs when you're born without the ability to produce insulin —, the hormone that help us break down sugar in the blood. Until recently, Type I was thought to be the type most prevalent in kids. But more evidence is coming out that Type II diabetes, also called adult onset diabetes because people develop a resistance to insulin later in life, is becoming a much bigger problem among children and teens and will continue to rise as the obesity epidemic continues.

Should All Kids Be Tested?

Not all kids are at risk. The main problem is obesity - a major risk factor for diabetes and a warning sign for doctors that a child might be diabetic. Testing is being recommended for kids in the 10 to 19 age bracket who are obese and have a family history of diabetes or fall into a high risk ethnic background for diabetes like African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans.

But because Type II diabetes can be a gradual development, many children might not show any symptoms. There are some signs to watch out for: excessive thirst, frequent urination, increase in appetite and weight loss, decreased strength, fatigue and headache.

Treatment Options

With diet and exercise it's possible to correct the condition, but if that doesn't work there are also drugs available to help the body use its insulin more effectively. And taking insulin directly is a good way to supplement the drugs and make sure you have enough.

Injecting can be a problem because many diabetics are not good at keeping up with their shots as often as they should. But there are some products being tested now that could make it easier for diabetics to take their insulin.

Oralgen delivers insulin in spray form to the mouth, where it is absorbed into the body through the lining of the cheek and mouth. While this method keeps the insulin in the mouth area, there is also another form of insulin being tested where you use an inhaler-like device to take the insulin into the lungs. The clinical trials for both are still being done, and the FDA needs to approve them once those trials are done, so we're probably still a couple of years away.

Check the following sites for more information on this disease:

American Diabetes Association

Children With Diabetes Online Community.

Diabetes Facts (according to the American Diabetes Association)

  • Diabetes affects 15.7 million people in the U.S. ( 5.9 percent of the population)
  • About 1/3 of those aren't aware that they have the disease
  • Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death
  • It is a chronic disease that has no cure
  • Diabetes restricts thability of blood glucose to enter cells
  • Peak incidence of Type I occurs during puberty

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