A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Type 1 diabetes in children: What you need to know

Father and daughter laughing - Type 1 diabetes in kids

The incidence of diabetes is on the rise across the world – including type 1 diabetes among children.

The incidence of diabetes is on the rise across the world – including type 1 diabetes among children.

Type 1 diabetes management can be challenging. It requires testing your blood sugar regularly, watching what you eat and providing the right amount of insulin.

“Unlike type 2 diabetes, these patients are starting insulin on day one and are on insulin for their entire life,” said Dr. Anoop Iqbal, a pediatric endocrinologist with Marshfield Clinic Health System.

According to the American Diabetes Association, about 1.25 million Americans have type 1 diabetes and an estimated 17,900 youth is newly diagnosed each year in the U.S., so this is roughly one child per state every day.

While there is interest in why type 1 diabetes is on the rise, research has not found an answer. Some studies suggest that it is due to:

  • Environmental or genetic factors
  • Exposure to certain viruses

Research has found that if one parent has type 1 diabetes, a child has a 4-6 percent chance of having the disease. Furthermore, if both parents have type 1 diabetes, it increases to 25-30 percent.

Treating diabetes in children

One of the hardest things about treating babies and toddlers with type 1 diabetes is the huge swings of blood sugar based on their varied feeding patterns and different insulin dosing.

Therefore this has led to an increased focus on how insulin is delivered. This includes insulin pumps to deliver tiny precise doses of insulin.

As a result, new devices are now available that monitor blood sugar every five minutes. These devices also give alerts before the blood sugar drops below critical levels.

“Having these technologies give more confidence to the parents in better managing the blood sugar of their children,” Iqbal said.

For more information about type 1 diabetes, talk to your primary care provider.

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