Guidelines for identifying, preventing and managing type 2 diabetes among young people in Australian and New Zealand have published for the first time.

It is the first-time guidance for children and teenagers has been made available as up until now healthcare professionals had to refer to adult guidelines instead.

With the number of type 2 diabetes cases increasing among children, experts thought the guidance would help encourage critical early assessment and management.

Study author Dr Lexia Peña, Senior Lecturer at the Robinson Research Institute, University of Adelaide, said: “The obesity epidemic, particularly in Indigenous young people, has caused the increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes especially in children older than 10 years of age.

“Adolescents develop complications earlier than adults with type 2 diabetes and they are more likely to require insulin within a few years of diagnosis.

“Early identification and management of the condition, which is most prevalent among Indigenous people, is therefore critical to prevent complications and maintain their long-term health.”

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The guidelines cover specific recommendations about the care of indigenous children and teenagers when it comes to screening for the condition and recommends there should be tighter diabetes control for all young people with type 2 diabetes.

Dr Peña added: “There needs to be increasing awareness among the public that this chronic illness can start early. Children and adolescents need to be tested if they are in high-risk groups.

“It is critical that early diagnosis is followed with culturally sensitive advice to help them manage their diabetes in a way that promotes family-centred behavioural change. All healthcare professionals need to be aware of specifics for assessment and management of children with type 2 diabetes.

“In some cases, by the time type 2 diabetes is diagnosed, the complications of diabetes may already be present which is why early diagnosis and assessment followed by effective management is critical.”

The publication was based on evidence-based recommendations and was approved by the peak body of paediatricians who look after children with diabetes, the Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Group (APEG).

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