A Parent's Guide to Understanding Juvenile Diabetes
A new case of diabetes is diagnosed every hour. Approximately 13,000
children receive this diagnosis every year, and over one million people
are currently living with it across the world. As the parent of a child
that has been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, you may be frightened,
confused, and anxious about the future. This diagnosis is life-changing
for both you and your child. However, with a loving, positive attitude,
you can help your child lead a happy, normal life.
What is Juvenile Diabetes?
Juvenile diabetes is a medical condition that typically emerges
during an individual's childhood or adolescence. It is an immune
disorder that causes the child's immune system to attack the beta
cells in the child's pancreas and destroy them. Because the beta
cells are responsible for producing insulin, your child's insulin
levels drop to unhealthy lows. This causes glucose to build up in
the child's bloodstream, thus causing significant damage to all
of the organs in the body.
Typical symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, extreme
thirst, a fruity or sugary breath odor, drowsiness, sudden and significant
weight loss, constant hunger, vision changes, difficulty breathing,
vomiting, and sugar in the urine. Scientists are not yet sure what
the exact cause of juvenile diabetes is, but it is likely that both
environmental and genetic factors play a role in its development.
Most cases of diabetes in children are caused by type I diabetes,
but type I diabetes is responsible for only 5 percent to 10 percent
of all diabetes cases.
If juvenile diabetes is not properly controlled, it may cause
severe health complications. Some of the most serious complications
that may arise if your child's diabetes is out of control include
coma, heart disease, kidney damage, stroke, skin conditions, and
vascular disorders. If appropriate medical attention is not received,
diabetes could eventually result in your child developing a vision
disorder and eventually losing his or her sight.
Causes of Type I Diabetes
Symptoms of Type I Diabetes
Warning Signs of Diabetes
Possible Complications of Diabetes
General Diabetes Statistics
Type I Diabetes: What is it?
Dealing with the Diagnosis
Children are usually diagnosed with juvenile diabetes based on
the results of several different chemical tests, including tests
performed on the urine and the blood. If there are ketones and glucose
present in your child's urine, the doctor will suspect that he or
she has juvenile diabetes, and he will likely order further testing.
A random non-fasting blood glucose test will then be performed.
If the result exceeds 200 mg/dl, the doctor will have a stronger
suspicion of juvenile diabetes. Finally, the doctor will order a
fasting glucose test. Juvenile diabetes is confirmed if your child's
fasting blood glucose test comes back with a result of 126 mg/dl
Most children with juvenile diabetes must take insulin several
times each day to manage their sugar levels. Insulin may be administered
by injection or, in more serious cases, the child may receive insulin
through a pump placed surgically in his or her body. To help your
child manage this condition, you should remind him or her to take
the medicine prescribed by the doctor exactly as directed. Missing
a dose of insulin can be very dangerous for a child with juvenile
diabetes. You must also make sure that your child eats frequently
enough to keep his or her blood sugar from dropping too low, which
can also be dangerous.
Another way to help your child manage juvenile diabetes is to
make sure that he or she understands why it is important to take
medication and monitor eating habits. You should teach him or her
about proper nutrition management so that he or she understands
how to make good eating choices. You should also help your child
to monitor his or her blood glucose levels throughout the day to
ensure that they remain within healthy ranges. Finally, encourage
your child to engage in physical activity. Doing so will help control
both weight gain and blood glucose levels.
for Juvenile Diabetes
Diabetes: Dealing with Feelings
Coping with Diabetes
Type I Diabetes Support Group
Diabetes Meetup Groups
Other Resources for Parents