Pediatricians concerned after seeing sharp rise of kids diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- UW Health experts said cases of Type 2 diabetes in children they've seen has doubled, even tripled, since before the covid-19 pandemic.

"Doubling and tripling the number of new kids we meet every year with Type 2 diabetes," said Dr. Elizabeth Mann, director of UW Health's Pediatric Type 2 Diabetes Program.

Dr. Mann said nationally, Type 2 diabetes in children was already on the rise, but the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to speed up the already existing trend, which is why they want parents to know it's a problem.

"The rates of Type 2 diabetes in kids has been on the rise but even since the beginning of the pandemic we've really seen a sharp increase in what we already expected," said Dr. Mann.

According to Dr. Mann, in the past, Type 1 diabetes -- where the body stops making insulin -- was thought to be the only kind kids could get.

Type 2, where the body's insulin doesn't work as well and then the body gets burnt out trying to make more, was thought to develop later in life.

Dr. Mann said now, around 1 in 5 kids they see with diabetes have Type 2.

"We don't fully understand why we're seeing such increasing rates, there are a lot of theories though about what might be contributing," said Dr. Mann.

She said changes in how people eat, exercise, their stress levels, and more could all be contributing factors -- all things heavily effected by the pandemic.

Dr. Mann said this could possibly be playing into speeding up the disease in people who are genetically predisposed.

"How that impacts the immune system, and how it impacts the body's overall health I think all seems to be tied together," said Dr. Mann.

She stressed if your family has a history of diabetes it's important to be vigilant.

"Just be aware of it, and be aware that Type 2 diabetes is no one's fault," said Dr. Mann.

If you're concerned, bring your kids to the doctor to have the situation evaluated.

"We have a lot of tools to be able to help kids live with their diabetes and live healthy lives," said Dr. Mann.

Dr. Mann said if your kid is constantly thirsty (even after having some water), is urinating often, and rapidly losing weight, these could be signs of diabetes.

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