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Prediabetes & children

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Prediabetes in children is a serious health concern.

It means the child is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Your Marshfield Clinic​ health care team can diagnose and treat prediabetes in children.​​​

Type 2 Diabetes and Your Child: Understanding Prediabetes

Woman and boy playing soccer in park.
Encourage your child to be active. This can help reduce your child's risk for diabetes.

You’ve been told that your child has prediabetes. This means that your child's blood sugar (glucose) is too high.

Your child is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

In type 2 diabetes, the body isn't able to use insulin very well. Insulin is needed to use the sugar in the blood.

This is different than type 1 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body doesn't make enough insulin.

It's most often from the body's immune system damaging the cells in the pancreas. The pancreas is the organ where insulin is made.

Over time, high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, can lead to many health problems.

For example, when your child is older, he or she may develop heart, eye, or kidney disease.

You can take action now to lower your child's blood glucose level and help prevent diabetes in your child.

What is prediabetes?

Prediabetes means your child has a higher than normal level of sugar in his or her blood. Lab tests to check blood sugar include the following:

  • Fasting blood sugar (FBS). This test measures blood sugar after not eating for a period, usually over night. A normal FBS should be less than 100 mg/dL.

  • Glucose tolerance test (GTT). This test measures blood sugar 2 hours after drinking a special high-sugar drink. A normal 2-hour GTT should be less than 140 mg/dL.

  • Hemoglobin A1C (glycated hemoglobin, A1C). This test measures the average blood sugar over time. A normal A1C should be less than 5.7%.

This means that your child had an FBS level of 100 to 125 at least once. Your child may also have had a 2-hour GTT result of 140 to 199, or an A1C of 5.7% to 6.4%.

Who is at risk for prediabetes?

Diabetes often runs in families. African-American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, and Pacific Islander families are often affected. Your child may be more likely to develop diabetes if:

  • He or she spends more time sitting than being active

  • He or she is overweight for his or her age and height

  • A parent or sibling has diabetes

  • The mother had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)

Talk with your child's healthcare provider about these and other risks.

You can help prevent type 2 diabetes

You can help decrease your child’s risk of developing diabetes. Work with your child’s healthcare provider, on the following:

  • Healthy eating. Make sure your child is eating many different kinds of foods. Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. Limit sugars and fats. And limit processed, prepackaged foods and fast foods, such as burgers, fries, and shakes. Avoid sugary drinks, such as nondiet soda, sports drinks, lemonade, and sweet tea. These foods are high in calories, fat, and sodium, and low in nutrition.

  • Physical activity. Being active helps your child’s body use glucose. Try for at least 60 minutes of active playtime every day. It doesn’t have to be all at once. A few playtimes of 10 to 20 minutes add up.

  • Weight loss. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about a healthy weight-loss goal. Even a loss of 5% to 10% of body weight may help your child’s body use glucose better.

Resources

For more information about diabetes, visit these websites:

  • American Diabetes Association www.diabetes.org

  • Children with Diabetes www.childrenwithdiabetes.com

  • American Association of Diabetes Educators www.aadenet.org

  • American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists www.aace.com

  • National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov

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 Prediabetes

What Do You Know About Prediabetes?

Take this quiz to find out how to cut your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

1. If you are taking the fasting plasma glucose test, what blood sugar level may mean prediabetes?
2. If you have prediabetes, when are you likely to develop type 2 diabetes?
3. Besides diabetes, a person with prediabetes is at greater risk for which disease?
4. How does being overweight add to the risk for prediabetes?
5. Which of these is a symptom of prediabetes?
6. Who should be tested for prediabetes or diabetes?
7. If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, when should you have your blood sugar tested again?