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The Hidden Epidemic: Diabetes

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Esther's daughter, Michele, a 30-year-old mother of two, just happens to work as an assistant in an endocrinology office, where many diabetics are patients. After her mother's diabetes was discovered, the doctor she works for noticed dark patches on Michele's skin and some excess facial hair—symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder that hits an estimated 10% of women in their childbearing years. PCOS causes weight gain, irregular periods and infertility, and may lead to diabetes because sufferers' bodies have problems utilizing insulin.

Tests confirmed that Michele had PCOS, which explained why she gained weight easily and couldn't take it off. More bad news followed: A fasting glucose test (blood is drawn after not eating for eight hours) found that Michele had prediabetes, a diagnosis that comes with a 40% to 50% chance of developing full-blown type 2. Michele had a fasting blood sugar level of 101 mg/dL (100-125 mg/dL is prediabetic and over 125 mg/dL is diabetic).