If your child has been diagnosed with diabetes, you may be wondering what it will be like to manage the condition. Managing and monitoring diabetes is an important and ongoing process that is in the best interest of your child. Do not allow the diabetes to control you and your child – rather, control the diabetes adequately so your child can do everything they want to do.
It is very important to always consult your pediatrician and pediatric endocrinologist about your child’s health. Management of diabetes in kids needs to be done in collaboration with your multidisciplinary pediatric diabetes care team. Educate yourself and anyone involved in your child’s care in order to debunk any myths that may be heard about managing diabetes. Examples of myths include:
Myth: Diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar.
Fact: Type 1 diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin in the body, due to the destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This is unrelated to sugar consumption. Type 2 diabetes results from the body’s inability to respond normally to insulin. Excessive sugar and carbohydrate consumption can cause weight gain, which could result in obesity and therefore an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. Children with diabetes can eat sweets in moderation as part of a balanced diet, but it is important to track sugar and carbs, and adjust insulin accordingly.
Myth: Kids can outgrow diabetes.
Fact: Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong illness that requires lifelong treatment. Children with Type 1 diabetes will always need to take insulin as treatment because insulin-producing cells in Type 1 diabetes are destroyed. However, children with Type 2 diabetes may see an improvement in their blood sugar levels after puberty, as a result of weight loss, or with lifestyle adjustments.
Myth: Kids with diabetes cannot exercise.
Fact: Daily activity helps kids manage their weight, improve cardiovascular health, boost their mood, relieve stress and control their blood sugar. Exercise can be helpful in managing your child’s diabetes.
Utilize available tools in order to manage your child’s diabetes. Nationwide Children’s Hospital has developed the Diabetes Calculator for Kids, the first tool of its kind in pediatrics. Once the parent or patient completes the five easy steps, a customized chart is produced that can be emailed or printed off. It provides a parent or patient an easy way to determine the correct insulin dosage based on current blood glucose, without having to do the math each time.
Manmohan K. Kamboj, MD, is the section chief of of Endocrinology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.
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