NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) – There is a growing epidemic among American children, and now there is a new recommendation on how hundreds of thousands of those kids should be treated. The problem is type 2 diabetes, and it is a problem that is confounding more doctors, families and health care professionals every day.

Type 2 diabetes was never seen in young people as recently as 15 years ago. Now, it’s occurring with alarming frequency. Doctors know that a major risk factor is obesity. Beyond that, they were mostly in the dark about this disease. “Very little is known about the right way to both prevent it and treat it,” said Dr. Robin Goland.

A new study out in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that the standard treatment for type 2 diabetes in children is ineffective because the commonly prescribed drug Metaformin — effective in adults — has a high failure rate in children. Still, a combination of two diabetes drugs is far more effective in treating young people. “Two drugs right off the bat, that’s an important finding,” Goland said.

It is important because type 2 diabetes appears to be more aggressive in young people between the ages of 10 and 17, putting them at great risk for life-threatening illnesses typically associated with seniors. “We want them to grow up and have healthy lives and not be having heart attacks and strokes at terribly young ages,” Goland said.

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