Type 1 diabetes and children

Type 1 diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes, since it occurs mainly in children. 98% of children with diabetes have type 1. This accounts for 29.000 children in the UK. Type 1 Diabetes in children works the same way as in adults; The pancreas stops producing insulin, which prevents the cells from converting blood glucose to energy.


Finding out that your child has diabetes can be very overwhelming, especially if the family has no previous knowledge on how to manage the condition. There has to be made several changes in everyday life within the family, and special attention must be made outside the family to ensure that your child's surroundings understand the situation and can act accordingly.

To manage you child's diabetes, it is necessary to work as a team with everyone involved in your child's life. Children need help and support to live with their condition as it can be very difficult for them to understand the disease and the consequences of not following a strict plan. The school has to be aware of the situation and the parents should make a care plan in collaboration with school staff and the health care provider.

Symptoms of diabetes in children

Diabetes acts roughly the same way in adults and children. The common symptoms often focus around thirst, increased need to urinate and a dry mouth. These have a common denominator: water. The symptoms occur because of high blood sugar levels. When the body experiences high blood sugar levels and insulin is not produced, the kidneys try to take over and clean out the excess blood sugar through the urine. This process demands a lot of water and the symptoms will go on as long as the blood sugar is too high.

Among other common symptoms are tiredness and weight loss and specific symptoms for children are stomach aches, headaches and changes in their behaviour. If your child experiences recurring stomach aches and an inexplicable illness pattern, it could be a sign of diabetes.

Since type 1 diabetes means that insulin is not being produced, children will also need insulin treatments. Usually they will get a fast-acting insulin for the day and a slow-acting for the night. It is normal that the dose of insulin has to be increased with age for the simple reason that your child grows and needs more insulin to maintain the proper levels.

When your child is young, it is very important to keep a strict eye on the blood glucose levels, since he/she will not be able to manage it. Also their diet and their exercise has to be monitored closely. Children tend to be quite active when playing and it can be very difficult to manage their blood sugar levels. Furthermore, children may not notice their symptoms of hypoglycemia when consumed by playing with their friends and may not be able to treat the symptoms before the hypoglycemia breaks out.

You should always make sure that your child has access to glucose (e.g. some juice), in case they experience hypoglycemia.


Source: Diabetes UK

Last updated: 28/11/2018

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