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Horm Res. 2002;57 Suppl 1:19-28.

Type 2 diabetes in children: clinical aspects and risk factors.

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  • 1Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes Mellitus, Children's Hospital, University of Pittsburgh, Pa 15213, USA.


In the past, type 2 diabetes mellitus was considered a disease of adults and older individuals, not a paediatric condition. Over the last decade, however, in the USA and the rest of the world there has been a disturbing trend of increasing cases of type 2 diabetes in children, mirroring increasing rates of obesity. The risk factors for paediatric type 2 diabetes are: (1) obesity and increased body mass index; (2) family history of type 2 diabetes; (3) membership of ethnic minority; (4) puberty (mean age of diagnosis is approximately 13.5 years); (5) female gender; and (6) features of 'syndrome X'. The common link among these risk factors is insulin resistance, which plays a pivotal role in the pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes. Both insulin resistance and beta-cell failure are present in the fully established diabetes state. Data will be presented on how these risk factors impact on insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion in childhood, ultimately leading to type 2 diabetes. The clinical presentation of type 2 diabetes in children and its distinction from type 1 diabetes will be discussed.

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