ISLAMABAD, Jan 26 (Online): Kids with diabetes can lead full, fun lives, but they have special needs. Here’s what parents should know.
Diabetes is common among American children. More than 205,000 kids and teens have the disease, and cases are rising.
Age makes a difference in the type of diabetes a child is likely to have.
“Most children younger than age 10 with diabetes have type 1,” said Dr. Santhosh Eapen, a pediatric endocrinologist at K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune, N.J. “The condition occurs when the body stops making the hormone insulin,” Eapen explained in a Hackensack Meridian Health news release.
The number of U.S. children and teens with type 2 diabetes increased by 30% between 2001 and 2009, with cases growing among youth aged 10 and older. “With type 2 diabetes, the body produces insulin but doesn’t use it properly,” Eapen said.
The first symptoms of type 1 diabetes include weight loss, fatigue, blurry vision and frequent urination. Early type 2 symptoms can resemble those of type 1. But sometimes patients with type 2 diabetes don’t have any signs.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include not getting enough physical activity, being overweight and having a family history of diabetes. Early screening can allow treatment to begin and prevent or delay diabetes-related problems.
Kids with diabetes need care from different health specialists. A child can see a doctor, diabetes educator, dietitian and psychologist. “Children with diabetes will need regular follow-up with their health care team. A typical interval for visits would be every three months,” Eapen said.
Physical activity is important because it helps insulin work better and helps keep blood sugar levels under control. “Children with diabetes should be active for an hour every day,” Eapen said.
Federal law protects kids with diabetes in public and private schools. These children have the right to take part in school and get the health care necessary to stay healthy. For example, they may need to have diabetes supplies in their backpack.
“Living with diabetes can be challenging. But with extra support from loved ones, children with diabetes can still enjoy all the things that make childhood memorable,” Eapen said.