A woman prepares to give herself an insulin injection April 29 at her home in Commerce, Calif. Diabetes rates increased across the country, according to new government data.(Photo: Reed Saxon, AP)
CLEVELAND -- Amelie O'Connor is a normal kid in every way but one.
"You have this organ in your body called the pancreas
that every time you eat gives you insulin and mine just stopped working
so I need special help for that," she says.
And she's not alone.
Amelie is among a growing number of young people being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
"The latest report from the CDC shows that within the last
10 years, we have seen 23 percent increase in the Type 1 Diabetic
population in the younger age," says Cleveland Clinic Dr. Betul
What's frightening is doctors don't know why.
"Of course, there is a genetic predisposition, but the rise is in
many different countries, so genes are not enough to explain this
increase," says Dr. Hatipoglu.
She adds that there are several theories for the spike including
possible environmental causes such as our clean environment that doesn't
expose kids to germs that helps their immune system mature.
Or perhaps too much processed food eaten by kids and/or pregnant mothers. Or the theory of kids maturing too fast.
"It's scary to me because as long as we don't know why there is this
increase we can't really help or prevent it," says Amelie's mother,
26-year-old Tony Rotella learned he had type one three years ago.
"I had pretty much all the textbook symptoms I think you could have,"
Tony remembers, including sudden weight loss, extreme thirst, frequent
urination, blurred vision and fatigue.
Today both Tony and Amelie use pumps to regulate their insulin
levels. They also test their glucose levels several times a day and must
be vigilant about food.
"A lot of needle pricks and you're constantly thinking about what
you're eating. It changes your dietary habits of course and your
lifestyle as a whole," Tony says.
It is a managable disease, but left unchecked can be deadly. It's critical to know the signs and get checked.
"You need to right away take care of it or the long term effects are just devastating," Angelika says.