Can a child be diabetic if they have borderline high glucose levels?

William Lee Dubois
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

It’s possible. Of course I’m not sure how old the child is or what you consider to be “borderline high” glucose. If I had to guess, I’m betting you have diabetes yourself and maybe noticed your kiddo was going to the bathroom a lot so you did a finger stick and got a number higher than you expected. And now you are freaking out. Yeah, I would too.

In fact, I nearly gave myself a heart attack testing my son when he was about five years old. He clocked a 428mg/dL. After I could breathe again, I had him wash his hands and retested to find a blood sugar of 94. He had some ketchup on his fingers from the fish sticks we were eating. False alarm.

But assuming the child’s sugar really is up, what’s up with that? Children can get two types of diabetes. Type-1, which in the old days was actually called “juvenile diabetes,” an autoimmune disease where the body attacks and kills off the body’s ability to make insulin. Kids who get this kind of diabetes get sick very quickly and their blood sugars go through the roof.

But we are seeing more and more and more Type-2 diabetes amongst children too. Type-2 used to be viewed as a disease of middle age. It’s a type of diabetes that has a genetic component, but is triggered by a combination of age and weight. It’s characterized by a very slow onset over time.

To be blunt, fat kids in families with diabetes are at very high risk of developing diabetes as kids. If your child is overweight and has borderline high blood sugar you need to get that kid to the doctor right away. And today, right now, you need to pour every soda in the house down the toilet. And drive thru food is forever off limits. And you need to buy smaller plates.

The bottom line is we have two problems. The first is, for reasons we don’t understand, Type-2 in kids is more aggressive and damaging and they have to live with it for a very long time; too long. A child who gets Type-2 will likely pre-decease her parents. The second problem is we don’t have many meds that are approved for children.

Your best therapy is to get the weight off the child. If you think adults have problems with diets, you have no idea how hard it is to get kids on a diet. But you have to be strong and do the right thing.

You don’t want to burry your child in the future because you didn’t have the strength to say “no” to seconds today.


Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

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