Diabetes in Children


diabetes in childrenHealthcare providers are diagnosing more children with type-2 diabetes, a disease that typically affects adults age 40 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For this reason, it is important that parents learn the differences between the two types of diabetes and the symptoms they accompany.

Type-1 Diabetes

Every year more than 13, 000 youth are diagnosed with type-1, a condition often referred to as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. In this type of diabetes, the pancreas stops functioning as it should and no longer produces insulin for blood-sugar stabilization.

Type-2 Diabetes

Type-2 diabetes is more common than type-1. It results when the body becomes resistant to insulin and stops using it properly. As a result, the body needs more insulin. The pancreas works to produce the insulin, but is unable to supply sufficient amounts to stabilize blood sugar. Without insulin, the body cannot use glucose for energy.

Symptoms of Type-1 Diabetes

Excessive thirst and frequent urination are common in both type-1 and type-2 diabetes. Additional symptoms vary, based on the child and the type of diabetes he has. A child who has type-1 diabetes might exhibit flu-like symptoms, such as vomiting or lethargy. Unexplained weight loss, blurred vision and yeast infections are other indications. These signs often appear suddenly, over a period of weeks, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Symptoms of Type-2 Diabetes

Children with type-2 diabetes may experience numbness or tingling in the hands and feet. Blurred vision, chronic hunger and fatigue are other indications. Additionally, a parent might notice his child’s cuts and scrapes taking longer then usual to heal, due to blood circulation problems.

Risk Factors

Although genetics determine whether your child will develop type-1 diabetes, certain risk factors can make him more likely to develop type-2 diabetes. Obesity is a major factor. Through diet and exercise, however, a child can lose weight and prevent the disease altogether. Parents who are concerned about their child’s weight should consult a professional for advice.

Living with the Disease

Advances in medicine make it easier than in previous years for children to live with diabetes. Newer glucose meters simplify the testing process, making it quick and virtually pain-free to check blood sugar levels. Even so, diabetes is a difficult disease that necessitates much care and preparation. Keeping glucose tablets on hand and paying attention to the body’s signals helps ensure safety in emergencies. Educating your child about diet and health is essential, as is maintaining a well-balanced diet yourself and setting a good example for your child to follow.  Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are good to incorporate as main staples in everyone’s diet. I have found the book “Eat to Live” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman very informative about how diet relates to health.

References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/projects/cda2.htm;
Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/type-1-diabetes-in-children/DS00931/DSECTION=symptoms

Mara Gerke