Diabetes and Your Child

The American Diabetes Association estimates that about 193,000 Americans under the age of 20 have diagnosed diabetes, and approximately 1.25 million American children and adults have type 1 diabetes. To gain a better understanding of the disease, take a look at the types of diabetes, the symptoms and treatments:

Type 1 Diabetes – The Cause

Previously known as juvenile diabetes, type 1 is typically diagnosed in children and young adults. It occurs due to an inadequate production of insulin by the pancreas. This then inhibits the body’s ability to metabolize sugars, causing build up in the blood stream.

Type 2 Diabetes – The Cause

Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed when the body’s pancreas cannot make enough insulin to keep blood glucose at normal levels. Because the body cannot use insulin the proper way, insulin resistance occurs. A build up of glucose can damage parts of the body such as the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart. Type 2 is often associated with being overweight or increased BMI.

The Symptoms

Common symptoms of diabetes are: increased urination, thirst, increased appetite and weight loss. In children, typically type 1 diabetes is diagnosed, although type 2 is becoming more common.

The aforementioned symptoms have peak periods, typically between ages 5 and 6, and again between the ages of 11 and 13. One of the first signs in young children is increased urination that can lead to bedwetting. Your child may also complain of sleepiness or thirst. It’s key you recognize these symptoms, for if they are not addressed more severe medical conditions may occur.

The Treatments

While there is no cure for diabetes, it can become manageable. Treatment plans vary depending on the type of diabetes and the severity. Routine blood sugar monitoring, insulin therapy, insulin injections through a pump, a healthy diet and exercise can keep sugar levels within a normal range.

As a parent, it is important to support your child in becoming independent with his or her diabetes treatment. By developing healthy habits at a young age, your child is more likely to continue them as they age.

If you have questions about diabetes, treatment paths or any other concerns, speak with your pediatrician.