Type 1 diabetes in children is a condition in which your child's pancreas no longer produces the insulin your child needs to survive, and you'll need to replace the missing insulin. Type 1 diabetes in children used to be known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes.
The diagnosis of type 1 diabetes in children can be overwhelming at first. Suddenly you and your child — depending on his or her age — must learn how to give injections, count carbohydrates and monitor blood sugar.
Although type 1 diabetes in children requires consistent care, advances in blood sugar monitoring and insulin delivery have improved the daily management of type 1 diabetes in children.
The signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children usually develop quickly, over a period of weeks. Look for:
· Increased thirst and frequent urination. As excess sugar builds up in your child's bloodstream, fluid is pulled from the tissues. This may leave your child thirsty. As a result, your child may drink — and urinate — more than usual.
· Extreme hunger. Without enough insulin to move sugar into your child's cells, your child's muscles and organs become energy-depleted. This triggers intense hunger.
· Weight loss. Despite eating more than usual to relieve hunger, your child may lose weight — sometimes rapidly. Without the energy sugar supplies, muscle tissues and fat stores simply shrink. Unexplained weight loss is often the first sign to be noticed.
· Fatigue. If your child's cells are deprived of sugar, he or she may become tired and lethargic.
· Irritability or unusual behaviour. Children with undiagnosed type 1 diabetes may suddenly seem moody or irritable.
· Blurred vision. If your child's blood sugar is too high, fluid may be pulled from the lenses of your child's eyes. This may affect your child's ability to focus clearly.
· Yeast infection. Girls with type 1 diabetes may have a genital yeast infection, and babies can develop diaper rash caused by yeast.
When to see a doctor
Talk to your child's doctor if you notice any of the signs or symptoms of type 1 diabetes — increased thirst and frequent urination, extreme hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, or fatigue.
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. Scientists do know that in most people with type 1 diabetes the body's own immune system — which normally fights harmful bacteria and viruses — mistakenly destroys the insulin-producing (islet) cells in the pancreas. Genetics may play a role in this process, and exposure to certain viruses may trigger the disease.
Insulin key to sugar entering cells
Whatever the cause, once the islet cells are destroyed, your child will produce little or no insulin. Normally the hormone insulin helps glucose enter your child's cells to provide energy to the muscles and tissues. Insulin comes from the pancreas, a gland located just behind the stomach.
When everything is working properly, once you eat, the pancreas secretes more insulin into the bloodstream. As insulin circulates, it acts like a key by unlocking microscopic doors that allow sugar to enter the body's cells. Insulin lowers the amount of sugar in the bloodstream, and as the blood sugar level drops, so does the secretion of insulin from the pancreas.
The liver acts as a glucose storage and manufacturing center. When insulin levels are low — when you haven't eaten in a while, for example — the liver releases stored glycogen, which is then converted to glucose to keep your blood glucose level within a normal range.
Dangerous sugar level in bloodstream
In type 1 diabetes, none of this occurs because there's no or very little insulin to let glucose into the cells. So instead of being transported into your child's cells, sugar builds up in your child's bloodstream, where it can cause life-threatening complications.
The cause of type 1 diabetes is different from the more common type 2 diabetes. In type 2, the islet cells are still functioning, but the body becomes resistant to insulin or the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin.
There aren't many known risk factors for type 1 diabetes, though researchers continue to find new possibilities.
Known risk factors
· A family history. Anyone with a parent or siblings with type 1 diabetes has a slightly increased risk of developing the condition.
· Genetic susceptibility. The presence of certain genes indicates an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes. In some cases — usually through a clinical trial — genetic testing can be done to determine if a child who has a family history of type 1 diabetes is at increased risk of developing the condition.
Possible risk factors
Possible risk factors for type 1 diabetes include:
· Viral exposure. Exposure to Epstein-Barr virus, coxsackie virus, rubella or cytomegalovirus may trigger the autoimmune destruction of the islet cells, or the virus may directly infect the islet cells.
· Low vitamin D levels. Research suggests that vitamin D may protect against type 1 diabetes. However, early intake of cow's milk — a common source of vitamin D — has been linked to an increased risk of type 1 diabetes.
· Other dietary factors. Drinking water that contains nitrates may increase the risk of type 1 diabetes. The timing of the introduction of cereal into a baby's diet also may affect a child's risk of type 1 diabetes. One clinical trial found that between ages 4 and 7 months appears to be the optimal time for introducing cereal.
Type 1 diabetes can affect nearly every major organ in your child's body, including the heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. The good news is that keeping your child's blood sugar level close to normal most of the time can dramatically reduce the risk of these complications.
Long-term complications of type 1 diabetes develop gradually. Eventually, if blood sugar levels aren't well-controlled, diabetes complications may be disabling or even life-threatening.
· Heart and blood vessel disease. Diabetes dramatically increases your child's risk of various cardiovascular problems — including coronary artery disease with chest pain (angina), heart attack, stroke, narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and high blood pressure — later in life.
· Nerve damage (neuropathy). Excess sugar can injure the walls of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish your child's nerves, especially in the legs. This can cause tingling, numbness, burning or pain. Nerve damage usually happens gradually over a long period of time.
· Kidney damage (nephropathy). Diabetes can damage the numerous tiny blood vessel clusters that filter waste from your child's blood. Severe damage can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant.
· Eye damage. Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy). Diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness. Diabetes can also lead to cataracts and a greater risk of glaucoma.
· Foot damage. Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can become serious infections.
· Skin conditions. Diabetes may leave your child more susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial infections, fungal infections and itching.
· Osteoporosis. Diabetes may lead to lower than normal bone mineral density, increasing your child's risk of osteoporosis as an adult.
Recommended Forever Living Supplements
· Forever Kids. These fun and delicious multivitamins provide both adults and growing kids age two and older with the vital vitamins, minerals, iron and phytonutrients they may be lacking.
· Aloe Vera Gel. Contains chromium which is a crucial nutrient in the body’s fight against diabetes. Diabetic patients may by using chromium be able to improve glucose tolerance, lower their fasting glucose levels, decrease insulin levels and cut cholesterol and triglyceride levels, whilst increasing HDL-cholesterol levels.
· Arctic Sea Super Omega 3. Fatty acids are also used by the body as major building blocks for the creation of body fat, needed in appropriate amounts to cushion and protect our internal organs and keep us warm.
· Absorbent C. Type 1 diabetics generally have low vitamin C levels. By increasing the amount of vitamin c in the bloodstream, the amount of sorbitol may be lowered.
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The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the FDA. The products discussed are not intended to diagnose, mitigate, treat, cure or prevent a specific disease or class of diseases. You should consult your family physician if you are experiencing a medical problem.