Pediatric diabetes: what you need to know about diabetes in children.
Once a rare occurrence, diabetes is becoming increasingly common among children. In fact, statistics show that diabetes is diagnosed in 1 out of every 400 children. Therefore, it’s safe to say that pediatric diabetes has become quite common.
Because it is every parent’s top priority to keep their little ones happy and healthy, it is important to gather all the important information about this serious condition first and learn how to prevent and manage it. With that in mind, here’s what parents need to know about diabetes in children.
What is pediatric diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that signals the body’s decreased ability to turn food into fuel. Although it used to be common among adults and the elderly, the rates of diabetes among children have risen significantly, leading to what we know today as pediatric diabetes.
There are two types – type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The former involves the immune system destroying the insulin-producing cells by mistake, resulting in insufficient or no production of insulin. The latter, on the other hand, refers to your child’s body’s inability to properly process glucose, either because of insulin resistance or due to insufficient insulin production. Left untreated, diabetes can wreak havoc on your child’s body, affecting everything from the nervous system to the heart and kidneys.
What are the most common symptoms of pediatric diabetes?
First off, it is very much possible that diabetes in children goes unnoticed for quite some time. The child may be affected by it without displaying the symptoms. Therefore, the parents may not see a reason to worry. In many cases, it isn’t until the child goes for a routine health check-up that the disease gets diagnosed.
That said, some of the most common symptoms to watch out for include frequent urination, infections, blurry vision, fatigue, increased thirst, and hunger. Other symptoms include fruity-smelling breath and unintended weight loss – both of which are typical for children with type 1 diabetes.
What if my child gets diagnosed with diabetes?
It’s no secret that diabetes can cause a variety of long-term consequences. As a parent, realizing that your child is at risk of suffering from diabetes can be quite upsetting, even more so if they get diagnosed with it. In such instances, consulting with an experienced diabetes specialist would be the first step toward getting the necessary treatment. Depending on the type of diabetes they have, this may involve taking oral medications or insulin.
When in doubt, it’s best to schedule your child for a diabetes screening sooner rather than later. Generally speaking, this exam is recommended once a child turns 10 or enters puberty. If they are obese or overweight, it’s best to not delay the visit to the doctor.
What are some of the risk factors for pediatric diabetes?
Depending on the type of diabetes, there are different risk factors parents should pay special attention to. When it comes to type 1 diabetes, the risk of your child developing it increases if there’s someone in the family who’s already suffered from it. Being white and of non-Hispanic descent also contributes to a higher risk of developing diabetes, along with genetics. On certain occasions, type 1 diabetes may develop as a result of particular viruses.
As for type 2 diabetes in children, low physical activity coupled with poor nutrition (e.g. processed foods and sweetened beverages) is often the main culprits. This typically leads to them being overweight, which is another big risk factor. Other factors that increase the risk of type 2 diabetes include preterm birth, low birth weight, family history, race/ethnicity, age, and sex, as well as maternal gestational diabetes.
Which steps can I take to prevent pediatric diabetes?
Although scheduling a doctor’s visit is vital for ensuring the right treatment for your child, prevention is the best cure. Therefore, do your best to teach healthy habits from the get-go. While there’s still no way of telling how type 1 diabetes can be prevented, there are steps you can take to lower your child’s risk of type 2 diabetes.
Start by promoting healthy eating choices and monitoring their diet closely. Strive to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their diet, and cut their caloric and sugar intake. Also, find a way to keep their meals interesting as this will ward off boredom and prevent them from reaching for processed, nutrient-poor foods. Finally, prioritize physical activity, and set an example yourself. Sign them up for a sport they enjoy, but make sure to introduce healthy habits into your daily routine such as going for a brisk walk after dinner and so on.
There’s no doubt that a child’s health should be its parents’ top priority. Prevent your little one from developing this serious condition and suffering its potentially life-threatening complications by coupling healthy lifestyle choices with conscious daily routines and habits. Simple changes such as these go a long way in lowering your child’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes and can help set them up for a longer, happier, and healthier life.