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Diabetes and Your Child: Understanding Prediabetes

You’ve been told that your child has prediabetes. This means that your child is close to being diagnosed with diabetes. Having diabetes means that the body has trouble using a sugar called glucose for energy. This leads to a buildup of sugar in the blood called hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). Over time, high blood sugar can lead to health problems. You can take action now to 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. This may mean that your child's fasting blood sugar has been measured at 100 to 125 at least once, or the 2-hour glucose on a glucose tolerance test is 140 to 199. If steps aren't taken to lower your child's blood sugar, diabetes can result. And once your child has diabetes, it doesn't go away.

What Are the Causes of Diabetes?

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).

You Can Prevent Diabetes

You can help decrease your child’s risk of developing diabetes. Work with your child’s health care provider, and follow the steps below:

  • 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, sodas, 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 can help 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 setting 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

  • Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation www.jdrf.org

  • 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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