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Studies show diabetes among kids is rising at an alarming rate

The number of young people living with Type 1 under the age of 20 soared by 45%.

SAN ANTONIO — More kids are coming down with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. That's according to several recent studies, and that's not good news for San Antonio where diabetes is already an epidemic. 

There is a big misconception that Type 2 diabetes only happen in adults, but at the Texas Diabetes Institute, they have over 1,500 kids with Type 2, the youngest diagnosed at age 5. 

Dr. Maria "Sukie" Rayas from UT Health San Antonio and University Health told us, "The complications that we're seeing in diabetes diagnosed in youth for Type 2 diabetes are way scarier and more aggressive than when grandma and grandpa are diagnosed with diabetes in their 50s and 60s." 

According to the CDC, COVID-19 has killed more than 600,000 people in the U.S. Research showed 40 percent or more of those deaths involved patients with diabetes. 

Deaths from diabetes last year also surged 17% to more than 100,000, based on CDC data. Younger people aged 25-44 suffered the sharpest increase with a jump in deaths of 29%. 

Jumping glucose with COVID is a huge problem. Dr. Ralph DeFronzo from UT Health San Antonio and University Health added, "The higher the glucose, the more likely people are to be in an intensive care unit, the more likely they are going to need to be intubated, and the more likely they are to die and not come off of the respirator."  

Another 16-year study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association says younger people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes has risen steadily, and it is no longer a rarity in kids and teenagers. 

The number of young people living with Type 1 under the age of 20 soared by 45% and those between 10 and 19 years of age with Type 2 diabetes nearly doubled.  

The numbers are showing that unless big changes are made, the future does not look bright. Dr. Rayas said, "We're talking about half of them having diabetic kidney disease, half of them having diabetes, eye disease already in their mid-20s."  

For kids with Type 1, parents need to watch out for symptoms like their child losing weight without trying, being much more tired than usual, and if that child is getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, or has increased thirst during the day.

UT Health San Antonio is conducting a study funded by the National Institute of Health to determine the best treatment to keep pre-diabetes from progressing. If you'd like to take part, call (210) 358-7200.