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May 19, 2003

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Baytown, Texas, USA:

We are African American, and my 11 year old daughter is overweight, always sleepy (takes a nap after school, and is ready for bed before her bedtime, naps in class often and gets sleepy on the bus), urinates a lot, and has a darker area around her neck along with other smaller areas of her body. My cousin recently told me that the daughter of a friend of hers who had the same symptoms, was told by her doctor that her body is making too much insulin, and she was put on medication. Does this mean my has diabetes or is in the pre-stage?

Answer:

We are beginning to discover that up to 50 million Americans, so a very big proportion of the population has insulin resistance. Simply put, the metabolism causes one to resist the effects of insulin, and the level in the blood is elevated. Effects have been shown on lipids, blood pressure, the ovaries, and of course on blood glucose. Insulin resistance is even more common in minorities in the US.

The dark streak in the neck is Acanthosis Nigricans. It is a herald of insulin resistance. Many with this go on to be overweight and develop type�2 diabetes.

The medicine used by most doctors to treat this is metformin, which improves insulin resistance, even though it isn’t approved for such use by the FDA.

I would wonder if your child doesn’t have sleep apnea which causes daytime sleepiness. Monitor the snoring at night and talk to her doctor.

LD

[Editor’s comment: See What You Need to Know about Type 2 Diabetes in Children.

SS]