NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A health alert for parents—you’ll want to be on the lookout for signs of prediabetes in your children. The Nashville doctors behind new research admit it can be difficult to spot. 

“There’s definitely plenty of patients out there who need help,” said Dr. Ashley Shoemaker, associate professor of pediatrics, Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital.

📧 Have breaking come to you: Subscribe to News 2 email alerts

Dr. Shoemaker said it was quite rare to see children diagnosed with diabetes decades ago. But today, a quarter of children with prediabetes could develop type 2 diabetes. Her team’s findings were published this month in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.

“It’s been an increasing issue, and the thing that really worries us, patients who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes as children have much worse outcomes than adults.”

When children have diabetes, they could suffer from kidney and eye disease, which causes a lot of damage to a young person’s developing body. “We really want to make sure we catch these patients and prevent these diseases.”

Shoemaker finds that accurately spotting diabetes in children can be more challenging than in adults. For example, the puberty hormones and growth hormones in teens can also affect insulin, and that can make a diabetes diagnosis a real challenge for doctors.

⏩ Read today’s top stories on

And that’s a challenge she hopes to one day solve. “I don’t want to put kids on medicine if they don’t need it. So, we don’t give it to everybody; we want to choose medicines for the  patients who would really benefit from taking them.” 

The two biggest factors to look out for in children and prediabetes are weight gain and genetics.