A recent study has shown that children who are 19 and younger who have been diagnosed with diabetes have annual medical costs of $9,061 compared to $1,468 for children who do not suffer from diabetes, which is six times the medical costs. The additional medical costs are for prescription medications and outpatient medical care.
Children with diabetes who had to take insulin had annual medical costs of $9,333 compared to $5,683 for children with diabetes who did not have to take insulin but instead took oral medications.
Children 19 and younger who had diabetes were on insulin at greater rates (92%) than adults who had diabetes (26%).
Diabetics run the risk of serious health complications such as blindness, heart disease, kidney failure, nerve damage, and amputations of toes, feet, and legs if their insulin levels are not adequately controlled.
Diabetes is a group of diseases involving high blood glucose (sugar) levels due to defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin (insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas and is released to help the body store or use glucose in the blood that comes from food intake). With type 1 diabetes, insulin is not being produced in the pancreas because the body’s immune system has destroyed the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas and insulin shots are needed to use glucose from food intake (risk factors for type 1 diabetes may be genetic or environmental, and there is no known method of preventing type 1 diabetes). With type 2 diabetes, insulin is being produced (insulin production gradually reduces over time) but the body is not responding to the insulin appropriately. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include obesity, advancing age, family history of diabetes, and lack of physical inactivity.
Proper diet (including losing excess pounds) and a proper physical activity regimen (as recommended and monitored by an appropriate health care provider) can have an enormous effect in either preventing or treating type 2 diabetes.
When insulin is required to be introduced from outside of the body, it must be by injection into the fat under the skin for the insulin to get into the bloodstream. Insulin cannot be taken in pill form because the insulin would be broken down during digestion.
Medical costs associated with diabetes are 2.3 times higher than medical costs for people without diabetes.
If the serious physical toll that diabetes has on children and adults was not enough to promote good eating habits and sufficient physical activity beginning early in life and continuing through advanced age, the findings of this recent study should add an important economic reason for promoting advances in the prevention and treatment of diabetes in children and in adults.
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