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It’s National Diabetes Awareness Month and Mississippi Leads the Nation in Diabetes Cases

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 26 Nov 2013 12:01am | comments

Each year nearly 15 thousand children are newly diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in the U.S., approximately 200 of those are in Mississippi. MPB's Lawayne Childrey examines the disease that can have devastating complications.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease which causes a person's pancreas to stop producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. Jack Reed Jr., former mayor of Tupelo, learned firsthand about the disease after he noticed a sudden change in his 15 year old sons physical appearance.

"I mean he went on a church ski trip and when he came back he had lost a good bit of weight just in a week. And he said his friends on the trip were calling him Thirsty, as a nickname because he was always stopping to get something to drink. So that Monday we took him to the pediatrician and he said well I've got some tough news but you need to address it right away, he's got Type 1 diabetes."

Studies show that as many as three million Americans have Type 1 diabetes, 15 percent of those are children. Reed says It's a shocking statistic he learned the hard way.

"With type 1 diabetes you'll die without insulin in 48 hours. The most sobering thing we heard was that the life span of a child with type 1 diabetes is 15 years less than a normal child. So that will certainly get any parents attention."

In Mississippi the most common form of diabetes is type 2 which is often associated with obesity, lack of exercise and old age. About 80 percent of  Mississippian's with type 2 diabetes are African American. State Epidemiologist, Dr. Thomas Dobbs  says in the short term both types of diabetes can cause a host of complications including drowsiness, increased appetite, sudden vision changes and acid imbalances in the blood which can be deadly.

"In the long term markedly elevated sugar levels can cause nerve damage, blindness, damage to the arteries and lead to stroke and stroke and heart attack and even loss of limbs."

Unlike type 2 diabetes, Medical experts say the onset of  type 1 is mostly genetic and has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. While there is no cure  Dobbs says both types of diabetes can be controlled.

"It’s not necessarily the easiest thing to do but is you can administer insulin in the proper amounts to someone with type 1 diabetes then the sugar can be regulated. Then with normal blood glucose levels a lot of the complications and all of the complications of diabetes can be avoided."   

In 2010 Mississippi ranked first in the nation for overall diabetes prevalence, with more than 270 thousand adult Mississippians diagnosed with the disease.  Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.

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