Diabetes in children is a serious illness that, if left untreated, can worsen. Diabetes is a chronic disease that causes blood sugar to rise. Type 1 diabetes is more common in children while type 2 is more common in adults, especially after 40 years. Here's what happens:
When your child eats, digestive juices convert much of the food into sugar called glucose, which is the body's main energy source. Glucose enters the bloodstream where a hormone called insulin helps the body's cells use glucose for growth and energy.
Insulin is produced by the pancreas, a large gland behind the stomach. In the healthy body, the pancreas automatically produces the amount of insulin needed to absorb blood glucose into the cells.
In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce insulin. In type 2, the pancreas produces insulin but the body's cells are unable to absorb it. In both cases, it raises blood glucose levels, eliminates it through the urine and exits the body - which means it is no longer used for energy.
Through careful monitoring of glucose levels and proper treatment, diabetes can be controlled. If not treated properly over the years it can lead to blindness, kidney disease, heart disease, nerve damage, skin infections, osteoporosis, paralysis and even death.
How common is diabetes in children?
One of the common chronic diseases in children is diabetes. Type 1 affects 1 in 400-600 children and adolescents. In the past, type 2 diabetes was diagnosed after age 40, but lately more and more children are diagnosed with type 2.
What are the causes of diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, so the body attacks the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Even though it has a genetic component, most people with this type of diabetes do not have this disease in their family history.
Researchers are trying to determine what kind of environmental factors can trigger type 1 in people who are predisposed.
Genetics play an important role in type 2 diabetes. People at high risk are: African-Americans, Latinos, Americans and Asians. Obesity and lack of exercise are risk factors, but it is a myth that if you eat too much sugar you have diabetes.
What kind of diabetes can my child have?
If your child has diabetes is almost certainly type 1, insulin-dependent diabetes. This means that the pancreas no longer produces insulin and will need regular insulin injections in order to process glucose.
Even though type 1 diabetes accounts for 5-10% of diabetes cases, it is the major cause of diabetes in children. Thus, 75% of new cases diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are in children or adolescents up to the age of 18, which is why it is sometimes called juvenile diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes, also called adult diabetes, occurs when the pancreas secretes insulin, but the body cannot use it. This type of diabetes occurs more frequently after the age of 40. However, cases have been reported at an increasing age, due to the fact that many children become overweight or obese at an early age. Obesity affects the pancreas, which can trigger type 2 diabetes.
Does my child have diabetes?
If your child has one or more of the following symptoms, talk to his or her doctor:
How is type 1 diabetes treated?
Type 1 diabetes is a serious disease that requires daily monitoring and special care.
You need to make sure that your glucose level is within normal parameters by measuring daily with a blood glucose meter.
You will need insulin injections. The doctor will teach you how often and how to administer them.
Proper diet and exercise can help control the disease. Talk to a nutritionist and diabetes doctor to help you establish a proper diet and exercise plan for your child.
Go with your child to all appointments with his doctor or dentist to maintain his health in the best conditions.
Tags Breastfeeding breast protection diabetes