Type 2 diabetes on the rise in Manitoba children: report

WINNIPEG — A new report from the Manitoba Centre of Health Policy in partnership with the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba has found an alarming issue about type 2 diabetes.

The report finds the number of kids in Manitoba diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has risen by 50 per cent over the last 10 years, and it is even worse for children in First Nations communities as they are 25 times more likely to be diagnosed with the disease.

Dr. Chelsea Ruth, who is one of the study’s co-authors and an assistant professor of paediatrics and child health at the University of Manitoba, said people on First Nations are accessing healthcare at similar rates as other Manitobans but the care isn’t reducing the complications of the disease.

“There is this prevailing belief that First Nations individuals have more complications because they’re not accessing health care, but this report actually shows they’re receiving health care in the same numbers but the care received is not adequate to fit their needs,” she said in a news release.

The report suggests screening guidelines need to be updated so healthcare professionals can start screening for the disease at a younger age and accessibility needs to be improved for young adults who have type 2 diabetes.

“Part of improving diabetes care is addressing inequalities such as poverty, educational success, food security, racism, and access to recreational opportunities. This is important for all Manitobans and especially for First Nation Manitobans who are impacted by these as well as by the ongoing effects of colonialization,” the report said.

TYPE 2 DIABETES AND PREGNANCY

The report also highlights that as the age of people getting the disease decreases, this could lead to more women being pregnant with the disease.

From 2011 to 2017, the report found that 2,283 children were born to women who had type 2 diabetes in the province and roughly half of those born were to First Nation women.

“Pregnant women with type 2 diabetes are three times more likely to be hospitalized than those without diabetes, and their babies are four times more likely to be admitted to intensive care,” Ruth said.

The report said if a mother has type 2 diabetes, the mom and baby will need more care. With that, the report suggests neonatal and prenatal care should be expanded in hospitals that are close to rural communities.

There are roughly 109,000 people in the province who have type 2 diabetes.

The report used data from the Manitoba Population Research Data Repository at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy to help identify people living with the disease.

CALLING ON THE GOVERNMENT TO TAKE ACTION

The Manitoba NDP held a news conference Tuesday afternoon to call on the government to address this issue and help Manitobans with this disease, especially those on First Nations.

“We always call upon the failings of the Pallister government in terms of addressing this exact thing. We all know right now, the premier is in Ottawa asking for more money for healthcare but at the same time, still underrepresenting what we have here in the province, especially in northern communities and Indigenous communities,” said Ian Bushie, who is the NDP critic for Indigenous Affairs.

Bushie said the government should reach out and collaborate with communities on how to properly address the issue.

Uzoma Asagwara, who is the critic for Health, Seniors and Active Living, said the province can be leaders in spearheading this problem with the help of the report.

“The government has the political will during this pandemic to spend money and allocate resources when they determine it to be important. This is important. We’re talking about the health and well-being, not just of First Nations children, Indigenous children and communities, but of all Manitobans. These are decisions that can be made that will have positive, long term health outcomes for absolutely all Manitobans,” said Asagwara.

They added if work is done with these communities, they need to be done in a culturally appropriate way and address the systemic racism that has led to the results skyrocketing.

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