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March 15, 2002

Diagnosis and Symptoms, Genetics and Heredity

Question from Omaha, Nebraska, USA:

I have type 2 diabetes, and I’m worried that my three year old daughter may have gotten diabetes from me. I checked her blood sugar with a meter and found her fasting blood sugar to be 139 mg/dl [7.7 mmol/L], but she is very active and has no symptoms now. Does this mean she has diabetes too? What are the blood glucose levels for kids of that age? Do I need to put her on a diet and/or medication?


From: DTeam Staff

I hope that your mind can be put at ease. While there certainly are inherited tendencies to develop type�2 (and type�1 for that matter) diabetes, the former essentially occurs in heavy individuals. In an otherwise healthy three year old, who is not having expected symptoms of diabetes, I would not do anything different, other than even at this early age, begin the habits of balanced meals and eating healthily (limit soda, “junk food”, “fast food” while encouraging fruits and veggies). I am not saying that she can’t eat the above foods, but as in all children, such foods should be the occasional exception and not the rule.

Remember that a capillary stick sample on a home glucose meter is not as precise as a venous blood sample measured in the lab. The meter is there to give you “close enough” numbers so as to help you make decisions day-in, day-out about your known diabetes. I would not make a diagnosis (in the asymptomatic toddler) based on a home meter. It also makes a difference if your meter measures plasma or whole blood glucose readings as the difference between the two can approach 20%. Of course, always assure that the to-be-sticked site is very well cleaned and dried before the stick. So, I would say not to worry now. If this doesn’t satisfy you, I am certain that your daughter’s pediatrician would be willing to send her for a fasting venous blood draw.