Nelson and his colleagues examined the relationship between a person's age at the onset of diabetes and the likelihood that they would have "end-stage renal disease," or kidney failure. The study, published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was based on data collected over four decades from more than 1,800 members of the Pima and closely related Papago Indian tribes. The researchers compared people who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes before the age of 20 with those who developed the disease between ages 25 and 55.
Breaking down the numbers by age range, people who developed type 2 diabetes before age 20 were eight times more likely to experience kidney failure between 25 and 34 than those diagnosed after 20. And the younger diabetics were four times more likely to have kidney failure between the ages of 45 and 54 than those diagnosed at an older age.
Dr. Pascale H. Lane is a diabetic neuropathy specialist and associate chairwoman for research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center's Department of Pediatrics. She believes that patients and parents of children with diabetes need to be aware of the potential complications of type 2 diabetes and ways to minimize the risk.
"Nephropathy [kidney failure] may be prevented by strict control of blood sugar levels and by not smoking," Lane said. "Diagnosing and treating high blood pressure early and aggressively may also prevent or slow the development of this kidney disease."
Efforts also need to focus on preventing type 2 diabetes in children through lifestyle changes that emphasize weight loss and increased exercise, Nelson added.
"The explosion of obesity in children and adolescents is a cause for great concern and must be reversed," he said. "Calorie-dense fast foods must be replaced by healthy alternatives provided in reasonable portions, and
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