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Could Your Child Have a Rare Form of Diabetes?

As many as one in every 10 people with diabetes may have a rare form of the disease—something other than the most common type 1 and type 2 diagnoses. Because these rare forms of the disease are each very uncommon, some children may be wrongly diagnosed as type 1 or type 2. How do you know if your child is one of them?

It may be worth discussing the possibility of rare types of diabetes with his or her endocrinologist if your child fits into one of these groups:

Overweight and diagnosed with type 2 diabetes as a young child or adolescent. Just because a child is overweight does not mean he or she has type 2 diabetes. He or she may actually have type 1 that simply appears to be type 2 because extra weight is masking the true cause of the problem.

Diagnosed in the late teens or early 20s with type 1 or type 2 without some of the key symptoms of their condition. Individuals diagnosed in this age range who don’t have some of the telltale signs of their diagnosis — whether it’s type 1 or 2 — may actually have a form of the disease called MODY. This condition can look like either of the two most common diabetes types. A genetic test can help determine whether your child has MODY.

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as an infant. Some people are diagnosed with type 1 at a very young age. But if signs of diabetes develop before the age of 1, it actually may be a form called neonatal diabetes. It also can be identified through genetic testing. If your child actually developed neonatal diabetes, he or she may need a treatment other than insulin to take care of the symptoms.

Several other rare forms of diabetes exist as well, but the diagnosis problems above are the most common among children. If you are concerned about your child’s diagnosis or have questions about his or her treatment, consult your child’s doctor or ask for a referral to the Department of Endocrinology, Metabolism & Diabetes at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

For 5 easy steps to better diabetes management, check out our Diabetes Calculator for Kids.

 

David Repaske, MD, PhD.
Dr. Repaske has been chief of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes at Nationwide Children's since 2009. He has a strong interest in quality improvement in diabetes programs at Nationwide Children's and across the country. When not working hard at the hospital, he likes to relax on the family goat farm, hiking, mending fences, cutting hay, repairing tractors and looking after the good health of the animals.

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