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Childhood, teenage diabetes becoming more common

READ MORE: Childhood, teenage diabetes becoming more common
WILMINGTON -- Childhood and teenage diabetes are becoming more and more common. And pediatricians say the specialized care isn't able to keep up with the demand. Pediatrician Patrick Edwards said, "As Wilmington grows we're just seeing a larger number of type-1 diabetics." Dr. Edwards has been at pediatrician at The Pediatric Center in Wilmington since 2003. "In this practice we've seen the number double since I've been here," he said. Since Dr. Edwards is a primary care physician, he is limited in the care he can give his diabetic patients. What kids with diabetes really need is to see a pediatric endocrinologist. They are the ones who can get the patient started on an insulin regiment. "Diabetics have access now to pump therapy, and insulin is infused every day throughout the day and only endocrinologists can start that technology," Edwards said. And that care is hard to come by. There are no pediatric endocrinologists in Wilmington. Patients have to go to Duke or Chapel Hill for treatment. "It's a scary diagnosis anyway then to find out that the person who takes care of my disease, the specialist is two to three hours away," Edwards said. The study in the Journal of Pediatrics found that for every 290 children there's only one board-certified endocrinologists, and that means for some children they may have to wait months to get the care they need. "The endocrinologists are going to be busier than ever in the future because of the increase of childhood obesity. One out of every four children are obese and what that leads to is type-2 diabetes," Edwards said. Not all, but some forms of diabetes are preventable. There are things parents can do to help keep their children healthy. Edwards said, "If we just teach kids to eat fruit and veggies, pick low fat foods avoid sodas and fruit juices and exercise everyday, we can prevent these endocrinologists from being overwhelmed." Dr. Edwards says New Hanover Regional Medical Center is actively recruiting a pediatric endocrinologist to work at the new pediatric care unit that is scheduled to be opened in August.

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