CLEVELAND -- Amelie O'Connor is a normal kid in every way but one.
"You have this organ in your body called the pancreasthat every time you eat gives you insulin and mine just stopped workingso 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 last10 years, we have seen 23 percent increase in the Type 1 Diabeticpopulation in the younger age," says Cleveland Clinic Dr. BetulHatipoglu.
What's frightening is doctors don't know why.
"Of course, there is a genetic predisposition, but the rise is inmany different countries, so genes are not enough to explain thisincrease," says Dr. Hatipoglu.
She adds that there are several theories for the spike includingpossible environmental causes such as our clean environment that doesn'texpose 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 thisincrease we can't really help or prevent it," says Amelie's mother,Angelika O'Connor.
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, frequenturination, blurred vision and fatigue.
Today both Tony and Amelie use pumps to regulate their insulinlevels.They also test their glucose levels several times a day and mustbe vigilant about food.
"A lot of needle pricks and you're constantly thinking about whatyou're eating. It changes your dietary habits of course and yourlifestyle 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.