Diabetes Catching its Victims Young
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14 November 2008
By Umesh Isalkar
7 to 8% of Total Diabetic Population in Country are Juvenile, Say Doctors
Thirteen–year–old Eshaan Shevate is a die–hard swimmer. Having won the district title in under–14 category, he narrowly failed to clinch the state title at a recent swimming tournament at Satara. This, however, hasn’t deterred the youngster from dreaming big. “Can he really prove to be a tough contender next year? “Why not?” he retorts, “Being a diabetic is not a big issue. I have learnt to manage it on my own.”
It may sound strange that Eshaan is a sportsman and a diabetic patient as well, that too at such a young age, but he is not an isolated case. If a recent study by city–based diabetes care and research centre (DCRC) is to be believed, the number of juvenile diabetes is touching seven to eight per cent of the total diabetic population.
“Contrary to earlier studies, which marks the percentage at five, we have found that the percentage is on the rise,” said diabetiologist Abhay Mutha, founder–president of the DCRC.
Around 2,000 school children from six municipal and private school were screened for the study. “Around 25 per cent of these students were found obese. Incidences of juvenile diabetes was seven among one hundred children,” said Mutha.
Moreover, the study has also shown that this so–called lifestyle–disease of the rich has found its way among the children living in the slums. “Our foundation has adopted 105 diabetic children. Most of them are children of parents who live in slums and work as cheap labourer or domestic help. The foundation provides them treatment and bear expenses of their education, books, etc,” said Mutha.
Medically, juvenile diabetes is called type I diabetes. “The actual cause of type I diabetes is still not known. However, the most accepted cause is auto–immune destruction of beta–cells or pancreas due to viral infection,” explains Mutha. Nobody can diagnose or prevent type I diabetes, before it manifests itself, he added. “Contrary to type II, type I diabetes can not remain hidden. Thus, a child can become suddenly sick, lose weight drastically, and have excessive thirst and urination,” said Mutha.
K B Grant, chairman and managing trustee, Ruby Hall Clinic, who is also the chief advisor of the DCRC, expressed concern about the increasing rise in juvenile diabetes. “I have never seen such a rise in my long stretch of medical career. The government agencies and communities at large and medical fraternity should come together and look into the reasons of this problem seriously,” Grant said. “Earlier, out of 100 diabetics, 95 were adults and only 4 to 5 were children. But now, it is touching almost a figure of 7 to 8,” he added.