Pediatric Diabetes Conditions
Diabetes is a disease diagnosed when tests identify a high level of sugar in your child’s blood. The two main types of diabetes diagnosed in children are Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
There are also more rare forms of childhood diabetes. These include neonatal diabetes and MODY (maturity-onset diabetes of the young).
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes develops when your immune system mistakenly attacks the cells that produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates your blood glucose (sugar) level. These cells produce very little or no insulin when attacked. This prevents your body from using glucose for energy.
You can treat Type 1 diabetes by taking insulin every day to compensate for the loss of insulin. Your child can take insulin injections using syringes, pens or an insulin pump. Children with a family history of Type 1 diabetes are at a higher risk of developing the condition. There is no known way to prevent Type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body is not properly responding to insulin. This is called insulin resistance. Over time, your body may not produce enough insulin to keep your blood sugar normal.
In children is usually requires the use of medications such as metformin and insulin. Currently there are very limited medications approved for children.
There are many risk factors linked to the development of Type 2 diabetes in children, including a family history of Type 2 diabetes. Other risk factors include:
- Childhood obesity
- Being of certain high-risk groups, including
- Native American
- African American
- Pacific Islander
Signs of insulin resistance such as dark, velvety patches on the skin called acanthosis nigricans are also risk factors.
Prediabetes often precedes Type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes means that your child’s blood sugar levels are higher than they should be after eating or fasting. During this stage, it is critical to focus on a healthy diet and exercise to prevent full-blown diabetes.
Cystic Fibrosis-Related Diabetes
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a disease of the lungs, pancreas, liver and kidney. Mucus builds up in these organs, causing problems like:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chronic illness
- Blockage of enzymes that break down food
- Scarring in the pancreas
If scarring occurs in the pancreas, it will stop producing insulin as it should. Children with this condition can become “insulin deficient.”
We recommend that children 10 and older with CF get screened for diabetes each year. We can screen for CF-related diabetes with these tests:
- Oral glucose tolerance test
- Fasting blood glucose tests
- Testing hemoglobin A1c
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes in Children
- Unintentional weight loss
- Extreme thirst or hunger
- Frequent urination
- New onset bed wetting or increased urination at night
- Blurred vision
- Frequent infections or cuts that are slow to heal
- Tingling in the hands or feet
Severe symptoms that require immediate medical attention include:
- Belly pain
- Rapid breathing
- Loss of consciousness
If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, get them checked out by their pediatrician.
If you have any questions, please call 210-358-7551. The physician referral fax number is 210-702-4228 and the clinic fax number is 210-358-7595.