Toddler with type 2 diabetes raises concerns about diet, health

A three-year-old girl in Texas is thought to be the youngest person ever diagnosed with the condition.

By Stephen Feller

HOUSTON, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Doctors in Texas reversed type 2 diabetes in a three-year-old girl, who is thought to be the youngest person ever diagnosed with the condition.

The patient, who will be discussed at a presentation during the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, is being pointed to as an example that proper treatment and lifestyle changes can reverse the disease.


"I'm very vigilant and screen all obese children I see for signs of the disease but I was surprised to find it in someone so young," Dr. Michael Yafi, a doctor at the University of Texas Health Science Center, told the BBC. "The case is probably the youngest reported but with no global register it is hard to be sure."

Yafi treated the three-year-old in the pediatric endocrinology unit at the University of Texas, according to an abstract published by Diabetologia ahead of the EASD conference.

The girl weighed 77 pounds at her initial evaluation, with her weight, body mass index and height all in the top five percent for her age. Her family has no history of diabetes, however both her parents are obese and doctors found the family had poor nutritional habits with uncontrolled counting of calories and fat.


Doctors conducted tests to rule out causes of obesity, finding she had high fasting plasma glucose and hemoglobin, but tested negative for type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that causes the pancreas to make little or no insulin and does not have a cure.

Based on test results and observation, doctors treated the girl with a liquid version of the diabetes drug metformin. They also educated the parents on diabetes and asked that they change the family's lifestyle by increasing their child's physical activity and changing their diet by controlling portion size and caloric intake.

After two months of decreasing doses of metformin, and six months of lifestyle modification, the girl had lost 25 percent of her weight and had normal blood glucose levels.

"Reversal of type 2 diabetes in children is possible by early screening of obese children, early diagnosis, appropriate therapy and lifestyle modification," Yafi said in a press release. "The incidence of type 2 diabetes has increased dramatically worldwide in children due to the epidemic of child obesity. Clinicians should be aware of the possibility of type 2 diabetes even in very young obese children, although of course type 1 diabetes can also still occur in obese children and is in fact much more common in young children than type 2 diabetes."


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