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How to help children manage diabetes

By Kimberly Nelson

What you need to know about diabetes and kids

According to the National Institute of Health, rates of diagnosed cases of type 1 and 2 diabetes are increasing rapidly among kids and teens in the U.S.

In a study conducted from 2002 to 2012, the rate of newly diagnosed cases of type 1 diabetes in youth increased about 1.8% each year, while type 2 diabetes cases increased by 4.8% in youth during the same period.

So, what’s the cause of the rapid increase in diabetes cases in children? And what can you do to help your child with diabetes?

Diabetes and Kids

Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to use glucose, which comes from the food we eat, as an energy source. In type 1 diabetes, the body can’t make enough of the hormone insulin, which enables the body to use its glucose. This type of diabetes usually develops because the body starts to attack its own immune system which causes it to eventually destroy its own tissues and organs including the pancreas which helps make insulin.

Type 2 diabetes happens when the body produces insulin but is then unable to use it effectively. This is often referred to as insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes was relatively unheard of in children and teens until more recently. This is often attributed to the increase of obesity in youth.

Some symptoms of diabetes in kids include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue

If your child is displaying any of the above symptoms, make sure to talk to your doctor right away. They may suggest a blood glucose test which can measure the levels of sugar in the blood and help determine if your child has diabetes.

Preventing diabetes in kids

Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. Doctors are unsure of what causes this type of diabetes, but several factors can contribute to it including:

  • Genetics
  • Family history
  • Certain viruses and bacteria

Though it can’t be prevented, there are things you can do to help make sure your kid stays healthy. This includes helping them eat well to maintain good blood sugar levels, taking them to all their well visits with their doctor and making sure your child stays active.

Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes may be prevented. Kids are more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes if they have excessive weigh gain or are obese. To lower your child’s risk of getting type 2 diabetes, make sure they eat well and remain active.

Texas Diabetes Institute

The Texas Diabetes Institute is committed to helping prevent and treat diabetes in children. TDI offers programs and educational classes to help parents and kids learn how to live with diabetes.

TDI is also dedicated to researching new ways to treat and prevent diabetes in children and adults. Additionally, TDI offers:

  • Fitness center
  • Demonstration kitchen
  • Community garden
  • Café
  • Clinics for each specialty

If you would like more information about Texas Diabetes Institute and the type of classes and programs they offer make sure to visit their website.


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