Today's guest blogger is Erin Caroulis, MPH, RD, LDN, CDE a Certified Diabetes Educator at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

As an adult, your doctor may warn you about the risk of diabetes. But it is not just adults who are at risk – children may also be susceptible to diabetes, or even pre-diabetes. Should you be concerned?

November is Diabetes Awareness Month with the goal of bringing attention to this ever growing disease. In 2015, diabetes will affect 30 million children and adults in the United States, nearly 10 percent of the population, according to the American Diabetes Association. Another 86 million have pre-diabetes and are at-risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes. Children and adolescents are not excluded from these numbers.

While pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes used to be called "adult-onset" diabetes, researchers are now finding that the amount of youth diagnosed with diabetes is increasing. From 2001 to 2009, the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study reported that Type 2 Diabetes accounts for 20 to 50 percent of new-onset diabetes cases with a disproportionate amount affecting minority groups.

So what is pre-diabetes?

Pre-diabetes is when a person has a blood sugar that is higher than the normal levels but it is not high enough to diagnose the person with Type 2 Diabetes. Having pre-diabetes puts a person at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Without changes to their diet and or activity level, 15 to 30 percent of people with prediabetes will develop Type 2 Diabetes within five years.

Should your child be screened for pre-diabetes?

Absolutely! And in fact, most pediatricians are already on the lookout! But if your child meets the following criteria, they should be screened.

  • Overweight; BMI is >85 percent for age and sex
  • AND has 2 of the following risk factors:
    • There is a family history of type 2 diabetes
    • The child is Native American, African American, Latino, Asian American, or Pacific Islander
    • The child has signs of insulin resistance – for example, you can see darkening of the skin around your child's neck (this is called acanthosis nigricans)
    • The child has been diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or polycystic ovarian syndrome
    • The mother of the child has a history of diabetes or had gestational diabetes during pregnancy

When should I be concerned?

If you are worried your child is showing signs and symptoms of diabetes, take action! Speak to your child's pediatrician and work as a family to make lifestyle changes to prevent the diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes.

The Diabetes Center for Children at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has a Diabetes Challenge with tips and tricks for making healthy changes to your diet and lifestyle. Challenges like healthy eating, portion control, eliminating sugary beverages, and adding activity are all examples of areas that can be changed. You and your child should work on one challenge at a time! Get started today!

Visit CHOP's Diabetes Center online for more information and resources for managing diabetes.

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