From the Journals

ADA releases guidelines for type 2 diabetes in children, youth



The American Diabetes Association’s guidelines for the evaluation and management of pediatric patients with type 2 diabetes differ from those for adults.

“Puberty-related physiologic insulin resistance, particularly in obese youth, may play a role” in the fact that youth are more insulin resistant than adults. Also, type 2 diabetes apparently is “more aggressive in youth than adults, with a faster rate of deterioration of beta-cell function and poorer response to glucose-lowering medications,” wrote Silva Arslanian, MD, from the division of pediatric endocrinology, metabolism, and diabetes mellitus at the University of Pittsburgh, and her colleagues. “Even though our knowledge of youth-onset type 2 diabetes has increased tremendously over the last 2 decades, robust and evidence-based data are still limited regarding diagnostic and therapeutic approaches and prevention of complications.”

The ADA position statement by Dr. Arslanian and her colleagues outlines management of type 2 diabetes in children and youth.


Children at risk for type 2 diabetes who are overweight or obese should be considered for screening at age 10 years or after puberty, whichever happens first, and repeat testing should occur at least every 3 years for these patients. Pancreatic autoantibody tests should also be considered in this patient population to rule out autoimmune type 1 diabetes, and genetic evaluation should be performed to test for monogenic diabetes, “based on clinical characteristics and presentation,” they wrote.

Use fasting plasma glucose, 2-hour fasting plasma glucose after a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test, or glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1C) to test for diabetes or prediabetes. Also consider factors like medication adherence and treatment effects when prescribing glucose-lowering or other medications for overweight or obese children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes.

Lifestyle management

With regard to lifestyle management programs, the intervention should be introduced as a part of diabetes care – aimed at reducing between 7% and 10% of body weight – and be based on a chronic care model. The intervention should include 30-60 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity for 5 days each week, strength training 3 days per week, and incorporate healthy eating plans. Dr. Arslanian and her associates noted there was limited evidence for pharmacotherapy for weight reduction in children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes.

Pharmacologic therapy

Pharmacologic therapy should be started together with lifestyle therapy once a diagnosis is made, according to the recommendations.

Metformin is the preferred initial pharmacologic treatment for patients with normal renal function who are asymptomatic and with HbA1C levels of less than 8.5%.

Patients with blood glucose greater than or equal to 250 mg/dL and HbA1C greater than or equal to 8.5% with symptoms such as weight loss, polydipsia, polyuria, or nocturia should receive basal insulin during initiation and titration of metformin.

Patients with ketosis or ketoacidosis should receive intravenous insulin to address hyperglycemia. Once the acidosis is corrected, initiate metformin with subcutaneous insulin therapy. For patients who are reaching home-based glucose monitoring targets, consider tapering the dose over 2-6 weeks with a 10%-30% reduction in insulin every few days.

In patients where metformin alone is not meeting the glycemic target, consider basal insulin therapy and, if that fails to help achieve glycemic targets, more intensive approaches should be considered, such as metabolic surgery.

Dr. Jay Cohen

Jay Cohen, MD, FACE, medical director at the Endocrine Clinic in Memphis, said in an interview that he agreed with the ADA position statement except for the pharmacologic therapy recommendations.

“The pharmacology therapy is 4 years outdated,” he said. “We routinely use all of the medications that are not Food and Drug Administration [approved] for kids, but are FDA approved for adults.”

He also questioned the ADA’s recommendation to give basal insulin to patients who are insulin resistant.

“Why give insulin if these people are insulin resistant?” said Dr. Cohen, who also is a Clinical Endocrinology News editorial board member. “The oral and injectable noninsulins work fabulously with less weight gain – already a problem for these patients – and less hypoglycemia, less side effects, and better compliance.”

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