UW Health Kids sees rise in Type 2 diabetes in kids

Published: Apr. 9, 2022 at 4:36 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 10, 2022 at 10:06 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - UW Health Kids experts are seeing a more than 10% increase in cases of Type 2 diabetes in kids since 2018.

UW Health Kids Type 2 Diabetes Program Director Dr. Elizabeth Mann said the percent of new onset diabetes patients with Type 2 at UW Health Kids went from 5.8% in 2018 to 16.4% in 2021.

Type 1 diabetes used to be thought of as the only type of diabetes affecting youth. While it remains the most common cause of diabetes in people younger than 18 years old, rates of Type 2 diabetes have also been rising significantly over the last few years, Dr. Mann said.

“This trend is worrisome,” she said. “Increased rates of pediatric Type 2 diabetes were recognized before the pandemic, but the trend has accelerated since spring 2020.”

Kids are being admitted to American Family Children’s Hospital at higher rates because of diabetes.

In 2018, 52 pediatric patients with new onset diabetes were admitted to the hospital, and only three of them were Type 2 diabetes. In 2021, 128 kids were admitted to the hospital with new onset diabetes, and 21 of them were for Type 2.

So far in 2022, one in six patients admitted to American Family Children’s Hospital with new onset diabetes has Type 2 diabetes, according to Dr. Mann.

At UW Health Kids, 31 kids were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2021, while only 10 kids were diagnosed in 2018. The rise in new cases has also caused greater demand on diabetes clinics.

Dr. Mann said impacts from stay-at-home orders, decreased physical activity, changes in dietary opportunities, increased chronic stress from the pandemic and emotional and social isolation could all be playing a role in the increase in cases.

But, according to Dr. Mann, there is often a genetic component to getting diabetes, so parents should beware of the warning signs and have regular checkups with their child’s doctor.

The symptoms of diabetes can include thirst, increased urination, increased appetite and unintended weight loss. If you notice any of these symptoms, Dr. Mann recommends reaching out to the child’s physician immediately.

“Untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health conditions requiring hospitalization and may, in rare cases, be fatal,” Dr. Mann said. “But once diagnosed, specialized diabetes providers, like those in our Pediatric Diabetes Program at UW Health Kids, provide tools to help people safely manage all kinds of diabetes.”

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