Until a few years ago, kids got just one kind of diabetes, Type 1, an autoimmune disease in which the body doesn't produce enough insulin. More recently, the obesity epidemic has led some children to develop Type 2, which previously only adults got: The body makes insulin but the cells aren't sensitive enough to it, so blood sugar rises. And now, doctors are seeing kids with both Type 1 and 2. "It's a double whammy of both insulin deficiency and insulin resistance," says Dorothy Becker, M.D., chief of pediatric endocrinology and diabetes at the University of Pittsburgh. Researchers aren't certain whether it's a result of kids with Type 1, who tend to be thin, becoming sedentary and gaining weight so they also develop Type 2. (Some may be overweight already.)
Early diagnosis is key: If your child experiences symptoms such as frequent urination, excessive thirst, and sudden fatigue, see a doctor.
The treatment is a hybrid, too: therapeutic insulin for Type 1, plus more daily activity and a healthier diet for Type 2. (For a child with just Type 2, a small weight loss and exercise may control it without medication.)