Unfortunately, diabetes can develop in any individual of any age and although it is not particularly common for young children to develop this condition, it can occur under the age of 16. The most common form of diabetes in children is type 1, which accounts for 90-95% of childhood diabetes. This means their insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed and they are unable to produce the insulin that is essential for helping glucose enter the body’s cells.
The cause of childhood diabetes is still not entirely understood and the majority of children who develop type 1 diabetes do not have a family history of the condition, which contradicts the belief that diabetes could be hereditary. It is suggested that a combination of genetic and environmental factors contribute to the onset of diabetes in adults, but with children it is still very unclear.
Do your research:
When a child develops a long-term illness, it can pose a challenge for the family as they make lifestyle changes, but people do find that managing diabetes with their child could actually be easier than they first think. As a parent, you need to give your child the right support to give them the best chance of managing their condition. Do your research on the condition, especially if you’ve never encountered diabetes before. Knowing what diabetes means and how it can be managed will not only help you, but also your child as they are definitely likely to have questions. Make sure you talk with your healthcare professional and a dietician so you can help your child to manage their condition effectively and work its management into your day-to-day life.
As the most common form of diabetes in children, type 1 diabetes requires insulin injections to ensure the body is receiving an adequate level to help cells use glucose effectively. Without insulin, the body will have too higher levels of glucose and our body will not be able to use it for energy. Not only will they need to use needles for daily insulin injections, but monitoring blood sugar levels also requires pricking the finger to draw blood which may also cause some anxiety.
Make sure you educate your child as to why needles are required and how it will actually help them to stay healthy. Always try to make the process as quick as possible to ensure less pain and they should quickly adjust to it; however you may also want to consider visiting a child psychologist if a serious phobia is identified or if it takes longer than expected for the child to cooperate to injections and finger pricks.
Diet & physical activity:
You are always encouraged to provide your child with a balanced and healthy diet with a decent amount of exercise alongside it to give them the best chance of healthy development and growth. This is no different for children with diabetes as their diet will play a huge role in the management of their condition. Diets should not be restrictive or excluding; instead they should be varied and occasional sweet sugary treat is not overall discouraged, as long as the condition is under control. This is where blood glucose meters come in handy, as trying out different foods and testing your glucose levels will help you to see which foods you can include and which you should maybe try to avoid.