Diabetes in Children

Diabetes is a life threatening disease. It has a slow onset that can be missed. Mothers notice that the child is drinking excessively and is going to the toilet more often than usual. These children tend to have very good appetites. But despite this, they lose weight.

If one doesn’t notice these symptoms, the children tend to dehydrate and slowly lose consciousness. This is called the Diabetic Ketoacidosis, which is life threatening.

Diagnosing diabetes is not difficult. A blood sugar test should be enough. Or even a urine specimen that shows glucose in the urine would be diagnostic.

Diabetes is usually the Type I in children, which means that they are insulin dependent. This type of diabetes is the caused by an autoimmune disease. The body makes antigens against the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Therefore no insulin is produced and the sugar cannot enter the cells where it is needed for energy, but stays in the blood circulation causing your blood sugar to rise. In some organs such as the eyes and the kidney the sugar accumulates and can cause blindness and kidney failure, if the sugar is not controlled.

For this reason long term complications can occur. There have been children who have gone blind due to poor control. Kidney failure can occur in the late 20’s and 30’s, needing dialysis. Good control can avoid all of this.

This type of diabetes is treated with insulin injections. Unfortunately it is still necessary to give injections, as it is the only way to provide reliable insulin to the cells.

Yes, having Diabetes is a major lifestyle change. But most families are coping within one month after diagnosis. The diet may have changed a little to accommodate the diabetic child, but as this is a healthy diet, all will benefit from it.

Sugar control can change when the child has a febrile illness. With the help of the paediatrician this can be adjusted.

Exercise is always good, especially for a diabetic child. If the child wants to do more extreme sports, the insulin must be adjusted.

A diabetic can live a normal and fulfilling life.