Diabetes in children
Diabetes refers to a chronic condition where the body is unable to properly regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels. There are two main types of diabetes in children
Type 1 Diabetes: This type usually develops in childhood or adolescence. In children with type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas and body loses its ability to produce a insulin therefore it is suspected to be autoimmune in origin. Insulin is necessary to help glucose enter cells for energy. Children with type 1 diabetes require life long insulin therapy to manage their blood sugar levels.
Type 2 Diabetes: Traditionally considered an adult-onset condition, type 2 diabetes is becoming more common in children due to rising obesity rates. Type 2 diabetes is more likely to occur in those children who are overweight or obese or have a family history of type 2 diabetes. In this type, the body doesn’t use insulin properly(insulin resistance), leading to elevated blood sugar levels. Lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating and increased physical activity, are often the first line of treatment. In some cases, medication or insulin therapy might be necessary.
Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes in children:
The symptoms of diabetes in children can vary, but they may include:
• Increased thirst
• Frequent urination
• Extreme hunger
• Unexplained weight loss
• Blurred vision
• Slow-healing sores
• Fruity-smelling breath
When there is not enough insulin the blood glucose levels build up and eventually "spill over" into the urine. This results in excessive urine production and thirst. Thus, prior to treatment, affected children and adolescents have usually had the symptoms of thirst and increased urination for some time (usually 2-3 weeks). If this situation is allowed to progress unchecked, fat stores begin to break down, weight loss occurs and the blood becomes increasingly acidic. Eventually affected people become dehydrated, start vomiting and lose consciousness. This is called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, it is important to see a doctor right away.
Treatment for diabetes in children
The treatment of type 1 diabetes involves replacement of insulin. Insulin can be replaced in the body either via insulin injections (twice daily insulin or four injections per day) or with insulin pump therapy. Checking blood glucose levels provides information on how much glucose is currently in the bloodstream and is a crucial part of managing diabetes. It is the only way to know if the body is getting the correct amount of insulin that it needs. Managing diabetes involves balancing insulin, food, and exercise.
Children with type 2 diabetes may be able to manage their condition with diet and exercise alone, but some may also need to take medication.
Prevention of diabetes in children
There is no sure way to prevent type 1 diabetes. However, there are some things that parents can do to reduce their child's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, such as:
• Helping their child maintain a healthy weight
• Encouraging their child to eat a healthy diet
• Making sure their child gets regular exercise
It's crucial for parents and caregivers to be aware of the signs and symptoms of diabetes in children, which can include increased thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and blurred vision. If these symptoms are observed, it's important to consult a healthcare professional promptly for diagnosis and management.
Treatment plans typically involve a combination of insulin or other medications, monitoring blood sugar levels regularly, adopting a balanced diet, and encouraging physical activity. Regular medical check-ups and a supportive environment are essential to help children manage diabetes effectively and lead a healthy life.
Monogenic diabetes is a group of rare genetic disorders that can cause diabetes. These disorders are caused by mutations in a single gene. Unlike the more common types of diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2), monogenic diabetes is caused by changes in a specific gene and is inherited in families in a dominant or codominant manner. There are different subtypes of monogenic diabetes, including:
Some of the most common types of monogenic diabetes include:
• Maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY): MODY is a group of genetic disorders that cause diabetes in young people.It is a rare form of diabetes caused by mutations in specific genes inherited from one or both parents. It usually appears in adolescence or early adulthood and is often misdiagnosed as Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. . MODY is caused by mutations in genes that are important for the production and function of insulin.
• Neonatal diabetes mellitus (NDM): NDM is a rare form of diabetes that occurs in babies in the first six months of life. NDM is caused by mutations in genes that are important for the development and function of the pancreas affecting insulin production or processing. Neonatal diabetes can be transient or permanent.
Treatment options for neonatal diabetes mellitus include life long insulin or oral sulfonylureas in certain specific genetic mutations if genetically proven.