Dear Parents of Incoming Seventh Grade Students,
California Education Code Section 49452.7, requires local educational agencies to provide parents and guardians of incoming seventh grade students with information regarding type 2 diabetes. The California Department of Education developed this type 2 diabetes information in collaboration with the California Department of Public Health, American Diabetes Association, California School Nurses Organization, and Children’s Hospital of Orange County.
Until a few years ago, type 2 diabetes was rare in children, but it is becoming more common, especially for overweight teens. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three American children born after 2000 will develop type 2 diabetes in his or her lifetime.
The body turns the carbohydrates in food into glucose, the basic fuel for the body’s cells. The pancreas makes insulin, a hormone that moves glucose from the blood to the cells. In type 2 diabetes, the body’s cells resist the effects of insulin, and blood glucose levels rise. Over time, glucose reaches dangerously high levels in the blood, which is called hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia can lead to health problems like heart disease, blindness, and kidney failure.
Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes
Being overweight- The single greatest risk factor for type 2 diabetes in children is excess weight. In the U.S., almost one out of every five children is overweight. The chances are more than double that an overweight child will develop diabetes.
Family history of diabetes- Many affected children and youth have at least one parent with diabetes or have a significant family history of the disease.
Inactivity- Being inactive further reduces the body's ability to respond to insulin.
Specific racial/ethnic groups- Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, or Asian/Pacific Islanders are more prone than other ethnic groups to develop type 2 diabetes.
Puberty- Young people in puberty are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than younger children, probably because of normal rises in hormone levels that can cause insulin resistance during this stage of rapid growth and physical development.
Warning Signs and Symptoms Associated with Type 2 Diabetes
The warning signs and symptoms of diabetes are increased hunger, even after eating, unexplained weight loss, increased thirst, dry mouth, frequent urination, feeling very tired, blurred vision, slow healing of sores or cuts, dark velvety or ridged patches of skin, especially on the back of the neck or under the arms, irregular periods, no periods, and/or excess facial and body hair growth in girls and high blood pressure or abnormal blood fats levels.
Healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent and treat type 2 diabetes. Even with a family history of diabetes, eating healthy foods in the correct amounts and exercising regularly can help children achieve or maintain a normal weight and normal blood glucose levels. The California Department of Public Health recommends you to follow up with your primary care provider if you have any questions or concerns. Please see your school health office if you need help accessing healthcare services.
Vivian Anderson RN, BSN – District Nurse