Warning Signs of Diabetes in Children
Diabetes can occur at any age, even in the first year of life. It occurs when the pancreas does not produce adequate amounts of the hormone insulin. Insulin is essential for allowing the body to produce and store energy. In people who do not have diabetes, insulin is produced as necessary to process food. Diabetes occurs when a person has a decreased supply of insulin or if the insulin does not work properly. The primary problem that results is elevation in blood sugar levels.
- warning signs include:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Waking up at night to urinate
- Bedwetting, if this is a new condition
- Increased appetite, but with weight loss instead of weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Frequent headaches
- Blurry vision
There are two major types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 Diabetes : –
Type 1 diabetes used to be known as childhood-onset diabetes. It is now known that Type 1 diabetes can occur at anytime from childhood until adulthood. It more commonly presents in children greater than five years old, and is less common in children younger than five. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. This means that the body’s system for fighting infection -the immune system – turns against the pancreas. The pancreas is the organ responsible for making insulin. You cannot get Type 1 diabetes from eating sugar or from gaining too much weight.
The exact cause of Type 1 diabetes is not currently known. What is known is that there are certain genes associated with a higher risk of developing Type 1 diabetes. Inheriting those high-risk genes does not automatically mean that a person will go on to develop Type 1 diabetes. Instead, there is some sort of environmental “trigger” that causes the person with those high-risk genes to then develop Type 1 diabetes. Exactly what those triggers are is not yet known. Currently there are ongoing international research studies to determine these specific triggers, and other studies that focus on genes and blood markers to determine why one sibling in a family might develop diabetes while another does not. A child with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily to live.
Type 2 Diabetes:-
Type 2 diabetes used to be known as adult-onset diabetes. With the increase in childhood overweight in recent years, however, we are seeing Type 2 diabetes more frequently in children. Type 2 diabetes has a definite environmental component. An imbalance between caloric intake and daily physical activity results in overweight or obesity. If there is a family history of diabetes, children are at a much higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Children in minority groups have a higher incidence of Type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes tends to present at age 10 or greater, but can occur at any age in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood. Type 2 diabetes is weight-related. The best way to prevent Type 2 diabetes is to follow a healthy diet and stay physically active.
The two most common problems that encounter as a cause of childhood overweight are drinking too many high sugar beverages and eating portion sizes at meals that are much too large. These two areas are easy to focus on and adjust, and changes in these areas can make a huge difference in a child’s weight. One easily remembered tool is called “B543210” and it helps remind children what to do for healthy eating and activity every day.
B Eat a healthy BREAKFAST
5 Eat at least FIVE or more servings of fruits and vegetables
4 Drink FOUR glasses of water
3 Have THREE servings of dairy
2 Limit screen time (computer, TV, phone, video games) to less than TWO hours
1 Be physically active for at least ONE hour
0 ZERO sweetened beverages
Limit eating fast food or restaurant food to less than two times per week. Restaurant food more frequently increases the risk for obesity. One helpful website is www.calorieking.com, which lists the caloric and nutritional breakdown of many menu items from chain restaurants. This can help families make healthier choices when they do eat out.
Proper Portion Sizes : –
Learn what healthy portions are and then create your meal so that one fourth of the plate is a lean protein, one fourth of the plate is a whole grain or starch and half of the plate is filled with vegetables and fruits. A guideline for serving sizes is:
- Serving of meat, fish or protein is the size of your palm, minus the fingers.
- Serving of starch should be no larger than the size of your fist.
- Two fists together should equal fruit or vegetable portion.
If you are concerned that your child may have diabetes symptoms, discuss this with your child’s pediatrician. The doctor will test blood sugar levels and then will refer you to a pediatric endocrinologist if necessary.
Ask Children’s Hospital is provided as an educational service. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Contact your primary care physician or other qualified health care provider for specific medical advice, diagnosis and treatment.