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Children and Type I Diabetes

by Tom Seman MD FAAP July 18th, 2013 | Children's Health, Health Observance, Pediatrician on Call
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kidMy 6 year old child was a recently diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. We are having problems with the heat and all of the desserts at the cookouts. How do we handle all of this?

First of all, make sure you have reviewed all of the dietary restrictions and know about the medications and there effects. Summer can be a hard time since there are so many changes. Type I Diabetes Mellitus is a disorder where the pancreas no longer makes enough insulin for the child. The muscles, the brain, the heart, and all other parts of the body use glucose, a sugar, for energy. If there is no insulin, then the different cells in the body cannot draw in the glucose from the blood, thereby preventing the cells from having the energy to perform their function. Instead, the blood sugar levels rise with the child getting more thirsty by the day, causing a variety of problems with water regulation, kidney function, and other areas.

Now let’s think about the child. He has been sitting in school, for 7-8 hours with only a few minutes of activities such as gym and recess. With only lunch and perhaps a snack, he has limited access to food, and thus he will have very different insulin needs than while on vacation. With the hot weather, the child must drink more fluids, and the increased activity will require more glucose to burn as energy, yet not too much.

The heat and all of the playing increases the child’s fluids requirements. Most cook outs have lots of sweetened drinks, cookies, and candy, all of these can cause serious harm to a diabetic child. During these fun times, a parent must monitor the child’s blood sugars more frequently, and increase the amount of fluids that the child drinks to make up the difference that he will be losing from playing, sweating as well as the increased eating.

Most importantly, the child should be shown proper food choices, using fruit instead of cookies or cake. These will moderately increase the blood sugars but will also provide more water for the child. Parents should also observe their child to make sure that he is acting normally,. If he is getting tired more quickly, do not assume that it is from his activity. Rather, it may be an elevated or dropping blood sugars that needs immediate attention. This is serious, yet a child can still have fun at cookouts, just watch a little closer. Enjoy the summer everyone.

Good Luck,

DRTOM

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.