Everything you need to know about Type 1 diabetes in children

Each November, we recognize and celebrate the brave kids and teens who live with Type 1 diabetes. For these children, they often grow up learning how to manage their activity, diet, and medical regimens in school and at home to stay healthy. In honor of Juvenile Diabetes Awareness Month, the experts at Children’s Hospital New Orleans are sharing information on this disease that affects about one in 400 children and adolescents.

First of all, what is Type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder and a condition in which the body can’t make enough insulin or can’t use insulin normally. The body’s immune system damages the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Insulin is a hormone, produced by the pancreas that helps blood sugar enter the cells in your body where it can be used for energy. Without insulin, the blood sugar can’t enter the cells and builds up in the bloodstream. High blood sugar is damaging to the body and causes many of the symptoms and complications we see in diabetes. The causes of Type 1 diabetes in a child are unknown, but researchers think some people inherit a gene that can cause Type 1 diabetes if a trigger such as a viral infection occurs. The children who are more at risk usually has a family member with the condition, and it occurs more in white children ages 4 to 6 and teens who hit puberty at ages 14 to 16.

What are the symptoms of type 1 diabetes in kids?

Type 1 diabetes often appears suddenly. In children, Type 1 diabetes symptoms may seem like flu symptoms. Symptoms can be different for each child. They can include high levels of glucose in the blood and urine when tested, abnormal thirst, fluid loss (dehydration), frequent urination, extreme hunger but weight loss, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, and more. The symptoms of Type 1 diabetes can seem like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees their healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is Type 1 diabetes treated in a child?

Children with Type 1 diabetes must have daily injections of insulin to keep the blood glucose level within normal ranges. Insulin is given either by injection or insulin pump. Treatment will also include eating the right foods to manage blood glucose levels, exercise, regular blood testing to check blood-glucose levels, and regular urine testing to check ketone levels.

Next step: Visit your local endocrinologist at Children’s Hospital’s Specialty Care Center in Baton Rouge

At the Children’s Hospital New Orleans Specialty Care Center in Baton Rouge, our pediatric endocrinologists are available to help provide diagnostic evaluation and treatment for children and adolescents with hormonal disorders. Before your visit, we encourage you to write down any questions you may have for our specialists. Feel free to also write down the name of your child’s new diagnosis, new medications, and instructions our providers will give you to treat your child. To schedule an appointment, call 225.216.3047. For more information on specialty care in Baton Rouge, click here.