Type 1 Diabetes in Children

POSTED February 3, 2022

 In the United States, 13,000 children are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes every year. Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which your child’s body is no longer able to produce enough of the important hormone called insulin. When there is no insulin, too much sugar stays in the bloodstream. As glucose levels rise it triggers the body to produce insulin and release it into the bloodstream. Type 1 diabetes is due to an autoimmune reaction where your body destroys the cells that create insulin. This is a problem as humans need insulin to survive, the missing insulin needs to be replaced with injections or with an insulin pump. Type 1 diabetes in children was originally known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. The diagnosis of type 1 diabetes in children can be overwhelming, especially in the beginning. Suddenly you and your child, depending on their age, must learn how to give injections, count carbohydrates, and monitor your daily blood sugar. There’s no cure for type 1 diabetes in children, but it can be managed. Advances in blood sugar monitoring and the delivery of insulin have improved blood sugar management and quality of life for children with type 1 diabetes.

What are some key points about Type 1 Diabetes?

  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus is a long-term chronic condition. 
  • Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are abnormally high.
  • It is frequently caused by an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.
  • Children with type 1 diabetes must have daily injections of insulin to keep the blood glucose level within normal ranges.
  • Without insulin, blood glucose levels continue to rise and death will occur.
  • With the administration of insulin and other management activities, children with type 1 diabetes can lead active, healthy lives.

What are some symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes?

  •  Increased Thirst
  • Extreme Hunger
  • Unintentional Weight Loss
  • Irritability, Behavioral Issues, and Mood Changes
  • Dehydration
  • Blurred Vision
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Fatigue

Complications Caused by Type 1 Diabetes

  • Nerve Damage
  • Eye Problems
  • Kidney damage
  • Vision Impairment
  • Loss of Teeth, Fingers, and Toes
  • Different forms of Heart Disease

     While there is currently no way to prevent type 1 diabetes but researchers are actively looking for ways to prevent the complications.  They are currently researching ways to prevent type 1 diabetes for those that have a high risk for infections and searching for ways to slow the destruction of those who are newly introduced to the disease. Those who have a higher risk for developing type 1 diabetes include young children ages 4 to 14 and those who are already at a higher risk for disease based on their immune system and current health state. As previously stated, there are currently no ways to prevent type 1 diabetes but there are ways to manage it including:

  • Checking Blood Sugars Daily
  • Eating a Balanced Diet
  • Get Regular Exercise
  • Managing Stress

     Due to the contrasting evidence, a single factor is unlikely to cause an increase in type 1 diabetes. A series of studies have reported a global rise of type 1 diabetes in the year 2021. Epidemiological and immunological studies have demonstrated that environmental factors may influence the pathogenesis leading to cell destruction relating to humoral immunity. Some of the most known theories are:

  • Hygiene
  • Genes( Inherited by family members)
  • Viruses triggered by the environment
  • Viral Infections
  • Vitamin D Deficiency
  • Breast Milk

     Environmental factors likely account for the changes in the disease over time. With the Covid-19 Pandemic, children who are infected with the Coronavirus have a higher risk of developing diabetes. Research that was earlier developed has proven that Covid-19 can worsen diabetes and that people who have diabetes have a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus. 119 children were diagnosed from March 18, 2019, to March 18, 2021, alone. 

Type 1 diabetes is an incurable disease but it can be managed. Working closely with your child’s healthcare providers can give you a tighter grip on management. You and your child will need to give insulin injections or use an insulin pump. Like any disease, type 1 diabetes is best when treated but, to those who were recently diagnosed or have lived with type 1 diabetes, the technology we have today will make it easily manageable.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-1-diabetes-in-children/symptoms-causes/syc-20355306

https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=type-1-diabetes-in-children-90-P01977

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17666-type-1-diabetes-in-children

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23733895/#:~:text=A%20series%20of%20studies%20have,destruction%20associated%20with%20humoral%20immunity.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8741809/

https://www.verywellhealth.com/covid-diabetes-risk-children-5215976

https://www.contemporarypediatrics.com/view/examining-the-incidence-of-type-1-diabetes-during-the-pandemic

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