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Diabetes getting worse in young people

Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - 12:43pm

TYLER — There's Type 1 Diabetes that used to be called "Juvenille Diabetes" and there's Type 2 that used to be called "Adult-Onset Diabetes."

But Doctors tell KWKT, age is not much of a factor anymore...and unfortunately it's harder to control in young people...and medication isn't working as well as it does in adults.

Theresa Mullen has been a medical assistant for 22 years.

But when she goes home, her work doesn't stop -- she has Type 2 Diabetes.

"It means checking my blood sugar many times a day and watching what I eat and making sure I'm exercising every day," Mullen said.

Mullen was diagnosed when she was in her 20s...

But studies show more children are getting Type 2 diabetes than they used to as obesity rates in children also go up.

Tyler Pediatrician, Doctor Melanie Wick tells KWKT it's been on the rise for a while.

"In the most recent studies, there are 10 times more cases noticed in young adults and children than there were in the 80s," Wick said.

And now a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine adds a new concern -- it progresses faster in young people and it's harder to treat.

Dr. Wick says sometimes the medicine just doesn't work as well.

"In children, while we do encourage them to have healthier lifestyles with the way they eat and exercise, oral medications unfortunately in children have not been proven to be as effective as they are in adults and a lot of children need insulin for their Type 2 Diabetes sooner than they would if they were an adult," Wick said.

We asked Theresa Mullen if she could imagine a child having to go through what she goes through every day.

"I can't. It's hard enough for me everyday to stick myself, go through the labs, I mean you do it because you have to but for a child that doesn't understand that I would say parents need to step up and watch their nutrition and help them exercise and help them learn how to manage things like that," Mullen said.

Dr. Wick tells KWKT it's hard to know what some of problems these younger diabetics will have as they become adults.

Experts also say it's better to prevent diabetes in young people than to treat it.

If you'd like to see the full study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, click here.

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