Diabetes In Pediatric Populations

by | Dec 21, 2022

The World Health Organization reveals that the frequency of diabetes is rising worldwide, with children specifically at an increased risk.

The rise of pediatric diabetes is prevalent for both Type 1 and Type 2. Some studies say that the incidence of youth with Type 1 diabetes will triple, and those with Type 2 diabetes will quadruple by 2050.

Even in the UAE, diabetes is increasing among adults and the pediatric population at an alarming rate. This emerging trend has caught the attention of health experts, who now urge the need for immediate attention.

What Is Pediatric Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus (diabetes) in children or the pediatric population are similar to those in adults. It is when a child’s blood sugar levels (glucose) are higher than healthy levels. However, the complications it brings about in children are different, requiring more precise and complex treatment approaches.

The sugar in our food is absorbed into the blood as glucose, which is our main energy source. Insulin, the hormone produced by the pancreas, is what turns glucose into energy and regulates blood sugar levels.

Similarly, when we eat food rich in carbohydrates, our digestive system breaks it down to sugar which then enters our bloodstream, raising blood sugar levels. To bring blood sugar levels down, again, the intervention of insulin, hormones produced by the pancreas, is required to absorb blood sugar for energy or storage.

However, when a pancreas can’t make enough insulin (Type 1 diabetes) or the body can’t use insulin well (Type 2 diabetes), blood sugar levels cannot be regulated, causing too much sugar (glucose) in the blood, resulting in diabetes.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes In Children

Type 1 diabetes is the most common Type evident in children and is the most common chronic childhood disease, occurring in 1 in 350 children by age 18. The incidence rate has recently started to increase, particularly in children less than 5 years of age.

Although Type 1 diabetes can onset at any age in children, it represents a higher occurrence between ages 4 and 6 years or between 10 and 14 years.

On the other hand, Type 2 diabetes, once rare in children, has also seen a steadily increasing rate in parallel with the increase in childhood obesity. It generally occurs after puberty, with the highest rate between 10 and 19 years.


While the exact cause of Type 1 diabetes, both in adults and children, is still unknown, some key risk factors could be causing them, like,

  • Family history – Having a parent or sibling with Type 1 diabetes fairly increases the risk.

  • Genetics – Certain genes indicate an increased risk of Type 1 diabetes.

  • Race – Type 1 diabetes is more common among white children than other races.

  • Factors like an increase in Vitamin D deficiency.

  • Early exposure to cow’s milk.

Whereas for Type 2 diabetes in children, family history, genetics, environmental factors, inactivity, and excess fat, especially around the belly, play key roles.

Children 10 years or older who have at least one of these risk factors for Type 2 diabetes,

  • Being overweight or obese

  • Has a family history of Type 2 diabetes

  • Have started puberty

  • Being a non-white race

  • Shows signs of insulin resistance like darkened skin patches on the neck or armpits

Are recommended to get a diabetes screening for early diagnosis and intervention.

Pediatric diabetes experts believe that modern trends like excessive consumption of junk food, which can easily cause obesity and other health conditions, and children being glued to screens disengaging them from physical activities are other predominant reasons for developing diabetes.

Common Symptoms

For Type 1 diabetes in children, common symptoms include,

  • Increased thirst,

  • Increased hunger

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Frequent urination

  • Blurry vision

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Abdominal pain

  • Fatigue and weakness

  • Fruity breath

  • Poor wound healing

For Type 2 diabetes in children, common symptoms include,

  • Increased thirst or hunger

  • Frequent urination

  • Fatigue

  • Blurry vision

  • Darkened areas of skin, mostly around the neck or in the armpits

  • Unintended weight loss (more common for Type 1 diabetes)

  • Frequent infections


Type 1 diabetes in the pediatric population experience complications varying from heart and blood vessel disease, nerve damage, and kidney damage to eye damage and osteoporosis.

Complications of Type 2 diabetes in children include high cholesterol, heart, and blood vessel disease, stroke, nerve damage, kidney and eye disease, including blindness, cardiac complications, renal failure, and vision impairment.

Early Intervention And Prevention With GluCare

Early detection of diabetes is crucial to prevent serious long-term health complications in children that can cause havoc and psychological distress in their teenage and adult years of life.

At GluCare, our diabetes clinic features pediatric endocrinologists with a wide range of experience & expertise in providing comprehensive diagnosis, treatment & management of complex hormonal problems, including diabetes. We support your child with their diabetes management journey by developing an individualized plan covering nutrition, activity, and medication.

Moreover, integrating AI and remote monitoring technologies into our diabetes management program allows us to provide the highest quality of support and real-time guidance for your child 24/7, making it easy for them to adapt healthy and sustainable lifestyle changes for a better future.

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