Diabetes is not uncommon in children. Mainly, it’s type1 diabetes which can develop any time during childhood—it usually begins between six and 13 years of age. However now, even type2 diabetes is on the rise, mainly in adolescents and among children who are overweight or obese.
One cannot prevent type1 diabetes but a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of developing type2 diabetes. Poor control of diabetes in children can affect growth, development and puberty.
The signs may go unnoticed if the child doesn’t complain of the symptoms and the first presentation could be a serious complication called diabetic ketoacidosis. It is a difficult fact to accept that your child may be having diabetes but a little understanding and knowledge about the disease and a simple blood test to diagnose it can avert serious complications. Like this, you can help your child live a normal and happy life like any other child.
Following are the things that parents should learn when a child is diagnosed with diabetes is:
1. First and foremost a trusting relationship should be built among health care professionals, parents, other caregivers and the child for an effective and successful diabetic management plan.
2. Parents should learn how to give insulin and also teach their child how to self-administer the same once the child is old enough.
3. Parents should understand the importance of monitoring blood sugar levels.
4. A paediatric dietician should be an integral part of nutritional management. Insulin regimen and the diet plan should aim to maintain ideal body weight, optimal growth, appropriate emotional and psychosocial development of the child.
5. Physical activity is important for children with diabetes but nutritional advice should be a part of it. Make sure their coaches know about their diabetes and what to do if some problem occurs.
6. School and friends should be informed about the condition and the symptoms of hypoglycaemia. There should be arrangements for blood sugar testing and a plan for an emergency situation.
7. Parties, vacations, peer pressure to eat inappropriately and healthy lifestyle, require discussion.
8. Aggressive binges and erratic behaviour are common during adolescence and need to be addressed appropriately. They may need expert psychological support and counselling during this period.
We cannot cure diabetes, but timely diagnosis, good control of blood sugar, and care can ensure optimal development of the child. You can prevent acute complication and delay the onset of long-term complication, thus giving the child a healthy and long life.