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CHEO Encourages Diabetic Parents to Have Kids Screened

OTTAWA - The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)’s new Centre for Healthy Active Living wants parents to know this – if you have type 2 diabetes, your kids are at higher risk for developing it too. Have them screened early!

The Center is rolling out a new program and detailed campaign to increase awareness among parents and health care providers of the importance of early diagnosis and treatment among children whose parents have the condition.

“Type 2 diabetes has traditionally been viewed as a disease of adults, but that’s not the case anymore,” said Dr. Stasia Hadjiyannakis, Pediatric endocrinologist and Chief of the division of endocrinology at CHEO. “As the rate of childhood obesity increases, so does the rate of diabetes. Early diagnosis is key to a child’s healthy future.”

Since the onset of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes is often silent, screening for these disorders, in those who are at risk, is imperative. Prompt diagnosis and timely treatment may reduce the risk for both acute and chronic complications. This has certainly been demonstrated in adults and is especially important in children, since the lifelong risk for complications is greatest and lifestyle interventions may be more successful.

Type 2 diabetes and its precursors cluster within families. In fact, 78 – 95% of youth with the condition have a family history of it in a first degree relative or grandparent.

“While there is overwhelming evidence of increased risk for type 2 diabetes in children of adults with the condition, there is also a worrisome lack of awareness of risk,“ explains Dr. Hadjiyannakis.

Children of parents with type 2 diabetes should be screened beginning at 10 years of age or younger if puberty has started if they have any of the following additional risk factors:

  • Obesity —BMI greater than the 95th percentile
  • Member of a high risk ethnic group and/or exposure to diabetes in utero (maternal history of diabetes during pregnancy)
  • Signs or symptoms of insulin resistance (acanthosis nigricans, hypertension, dyslipidemia, fatty liver disease).
  • Use of antipsychotic medications/ atypical neuroleptics.

CHEO’s Centre for Healthy Active Living is tackling type 2 diabetes through a family-based program that includes:

  • Screening and ongoing surveillance for at-risk children identified by diabetes education centres, family physicians, community pediatricians and/or pharmacists.
  • Parental education to help prevent type 2 diabetes from developing in at-risk children. 
  • Treatment delivered by an expert team that includes a physician, registered dietitian, exercise specialist, social worker and nurse.


For more information, CHEO Public Relations, 613-737-2343

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