More and more children in Australia are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, including those aged under seven with one as young as four-years-old.
Doctors in northern and central Australia are concerned about the alarming rise in diabetes diagnoses in children, saying action needs to be taken now.
Between the ages of 15 and 24, one in every 70 people in central Australia have the disease, according to recent data, The Australian reported.
This figure for the same age bracket in northern Australia stands at one in 150.
More and more children in Australia are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes , including those aged under seven and one as young as four-years-old (stock image)
Paediatric endocrinologists at the Northern Territory-based Menzies School of Health Research say cases of child Type 2 diabetes have increased at higher rates than anywhere else in the world.
A child under the age of 18 is diagnosed with the disease in Australia every week.
Type 2 diabetes commonly occurs in adults aged 45 and older.
While there are risk factors that can’t be controlled like genetics, the disease is also associated with lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise.
Children born to women with diabetes are also at greater risk.
Diabetes Australia said the disease is ‘increasingly occurring in younger age groups including children, adolescents, and young adults’, with now 1,155 children diagnosed.
Angela Titmuss, a senior research fellow at Menzies School of Health Research and a paediatric endocrinologist at the Royal Darwin Hospital, said when she started working in the NT in 2017 she attended to five children with Type 2 diabetes.
She has now cared for more than 100 children with the disease.
‘I think going forward if we don’t intervene, it’s a tragedy that is happening, because we’re losing these young people that have so much to give, that are going to have their lifespans cut short from diabetes,’ she told the publication.
‘The rates we are seeing are higher than has been reported anywhere in the world in the last 25 years.
While there are risk factors that can’t be controlled like genetics, Type 2 diabetes is also associated with lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise (stock image)
‘I really worry about the trajectory for these young people. The disease is much more aggressive. The prognosis is worse. It doesn’t respond to medications as well.’
The situation is so dire that some patients are experiencing heart attacks at 25-years-old, while others are expected to suffer renal failure by 30.
The Menzies School of Health Research is one of Australia’s leading medical research institutes dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians.
It is also a leader in global and tropical health research into life-threatening diseases.
An inquiry into diabetes was launched by a parliamentary committee on health in May this year.
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