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Type 2 Diabetes and Your Child: Understanding Prediabetes

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 hypoglycemia can lead to many health problems. For example, when your child is older, he or she may develop heart or kidney disease. You can take action now to lower your child's blood glucose level and help prevent diabetes in your child.

Woman sitting at table talking to health care provider with fruits on table.

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 health care 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 health care 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 health care 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.


For more information about diabetes, visit these websites:

  • American Diabetes Association

  • Children with Diabetes

  • American Association of Diabetes Educators

  • American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists

  • National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse


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