Diabetes is one of the conditions that people usually associate with old age. Fortunately, recent knowledge about the disease has shed more light about its occurrence with respect to age.
It has now been found out that diabetes is not a disease of the aged only but can also occur practically at any age. At least in just the past week, I have attended to two different patients who were diagnosed with diabetes at ages 15 and 16 respectively.
Therefore, to answer the question “Can diabetes occur in children below 20 years”, the answer is yes. It is however worth noting that the prevalence of the two types of diabetes are not the same at all ages.
Type one diabetes is more prevalent in children as compared to type 2 diabetes. This can be explained based on how each of these two types of diabetes occur.
Type one diabetes usually has a genetic root or is autoimmune in nature while type 2 diabetes is mostly associated with sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diet.
How does type one diabetes occur in children?
Type 1 diabetes usually results from an autoimmune disorder that leads to the destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas which are responsible for the release of insulin. Autoimmune disorder, in this context, means that the body’s immune cells begin to attack the body’s own cells as they begin to see them as being foreign to the body.
In the case of type 1 diabetes, the immune cells begin to attack the beta cells of the pancreas as they see them to be foreign. This destruction leads to the release of little to no insulin which eventually brings about the various signs and symptoms of diabetes.
Some children inherit genes from their parents that easily predisposes them to having this form of diabetes. The presence of these genes does not necessarily mean that the person will develop type 1 diabetes in their lifetime.
The destruction of the cells may take a number of years to reach a substantial level that drastically affects the amount of insulin present and hence brings about type 1 diabetes. So, type 1 diabetes can be diagnosed at any age.
Since individuals who inherit these kinds of genes are at high risk of getting type 1 diabetes, an exposure to other triggers like an infection of the pancreas will hasten the process of developing the disease.
WRITTEN AND EDITED RESPECTIVELY BY:
Dr. Ehoneah Obed is a registered pharmacist and a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana. He has a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and has experience working in a Tertiary hospital as well as various community pharmacies. He is also a software engineer interested in healthcare technologies.
His love for helping others motivates him to create content on an array of topics mostly relating to the health of people and also software engineering content.
He is knowledgeable in digital marketing, content marketing, and a host of other skills that make him versatile enough to uplift any team he joins.