Children, while being sweet and sensitive, are also very adaptable and resilient. Take children living with a condition like Type 1 Diabetes. We understand that life may be difficult for the parents of such children. Here are a few tips for making parenting a child with Type 1 Diabetes a little easier.
Type 1 Diabetes in Children
The body is unable to utilise the glucose (sugar) released by the breakdown of food. Thus, blood glucose levels become extremely high and cause Type 1 Diabetes symptoms.
Although it can be diagnosed in older adults, Type 1 Diabetes mainly affects children, adolescents and young adults. Thus, it was earlier known as juvenile diabetes or childhood-onset diabetes.
The exact cause of Type 1 Diabetes is not known. However, children that develop Type 1 Diabetes may have been born with a genetic susceptibility to it.
Though it can affect children at any age, there are two distinct age groups in which the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes peaks. The first peak is in children aged between 4 and 7 and the second in children between the age of 10 and 14.
How to Deal with the Diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes in Your Child?
Being the parent of a newly-diagnosed Type 1 Diabetes child can be overwhelming. It can be scary and feel like a lonely journey. You may be suddenly faced with a barrage of scientific medical information to understand, instructions to memorise, and lifestyle changes to incorporate at home.
You are not alone on this journey. There are resources available and help too, should you seek it. Getting to know the condition better can make you feel better equipped to deal with the diagnosis.
Here are a few things that should be on the top of your list to understand and do:
- Gather as much credible information about Type 1 Diabetes as possible.
- Learn to check your child’s blood sugar levels and interpret the results.
- Find out everything about insulin, how it works, and how to use it.
- Understand how diet, exercise, and illness can affect your child’s blood sugar levels.
- Adapt your family’s diet around your child’s, when needed.
- Learn how carbohydrate counting works.
- Provide emotional understanding and support to your child, who may feel very overwhelmed with what is happening in their life with the diagnosis.
- Educate friends and family members that your child frequently interacts with about the condition.
How to Help a Child with Type 1 Diabetes?
There is no cure for Type 1 Diabetes, whether in children or in adults. It can only be managed. Managing Type 1 Diabetes in kids can be challenging but knowing the right measures can make it easier. What you need is a care plan for your child.
A care plan is a set of instructions that your child needs to follow and you need to supervise, with only one goal in mind – to keep their blood sugar levels under control. The diabetes care plan includes:
- Insulin therapy and adjusting doses based on blood sugar levels and activity
- Everyday checking of blood sugar levels
- A healthy balanced diet with carbohydrate counting and eating on schedule
- Regular physical activity
You should also be in constant contact with your child’s doctor about the best care for Type 1 Diabetes. The doctor can guide you and your child on the plan and how to stick to it.
Living With a Child With Type 1 Diabetes: Tips for Parents
How does Type 1 Diabetes affect a child? In physical, mental, and emotional ways. Supporting a child with Type 1 Diabetes can be challenging.
Here are the four most important things you need to remember.
1. Test Blood Sugar Levels Regularly
There are two ways to check blood sugar levels. It can be done either with a blood glucose meter or a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). Most children with type 1 diabetes need to check their blood sugar before the 3 main meals and at bedtime.
This is about four times a day, and sometimes more often as suggested by your doctor. Your child’s doctor can guide you on how often to check the blood sugar levels and what to do if the sugar is too high or low.
2. Monitor Their Insulin Therapy and Adjust Insulin Levels Accordingly
With Type 1 Diabetes, your child’s body does not produce enough insulin. Therefore, children with Type 1 Diabetes need to take insulin through injections or with the help of an insulin pump.
Your child’s doctor will guide you on the right type of insulin for your child, correct doses and methods of administration. Depending on your child’s age, you can help them with insulin administration until they are capable of doing it on their own.
3. Provide a Healthy and Balanced Diet
Certain foods affect your child’s blood sugar directly, causing it to rise. Other foods can affect levels indirectly. By understanding how foods are affecting your child’s blood sugar levels, you can help them keep it in a healthy range.
Type 1 diabetic children need a balanced diet comprising , dailean meatry, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and non-starchy vegetables. They should avoid the consumption of sugary foods, sweet treats, cakes, biscuits, pastries, fried foods, candies, and sodas as these foods increase the risk of high blood sugar levels.
4. Make Sure They Exercise Regularly
The easiest way to keep kids with Type 1 Diabetes active is to find exercises that interest them. Signing them up for a team sport is a great way to establish a routine, though it’s not the only way they can get some physical activity.
Riding bicycles, hiking, dancing, or running around in a park can get them moving for about 30 minutes per day. To avoid making kids feel singled out and like they need to exercise because of their illness, make it a family affair. Do the activity with them. It’s a fun way to bond with your child and also gets some much-needed exercise time for everyone.
Don’t Have Time To Read?
- Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas by mistake. The body no longer produces the insulin hormone and blood glucose levels become extremely high.
- Although it can be diagnosed in older adults, Type 1 Diabetes mainly affects children, adolescents and young adults.
- As the parent of a child with Type 1 Diabetes, gather information about the condition, learn to check your child’s blood sugar levels, find out how to use insulin, understand how diet, exercise, and illness can affect your child’s blood sugar levels, and provide emotional understanding and support to your child.
- There is no cure for Type 1 Diabetes, whether in children or adults. It can only be managed.
- A diabetes care plan includes providing insulin therapy, regular checking of blood sugar levels, adopting a healthy balanced diet, and ensuring consistent physical activity.
- Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management program which provides 360º care. Let’s treat diabetes together.
There does not seem to be enough evidence to suggest that Type 1 Diabetes can affect the learning capabilities of a child.
Yes, with Type 1 Diabetes, a child’s behaviour may change. High blood sugar levels in Diabetes are known to cause irritability and mood changes in children and adults, which can lead to anger. Further, fear and uncertainty are a part of chronic conditions such as Type 1 Diabetes. Therefore, you must provide constant emotional support while parenting a child with Type 1 Diabetes and make sure that they do not feel lonely.
No. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any evidence that Type 1 Diabetes can be reversed, even if diagnosed early. There is no reversal or cure for Type 1 Diabetes currently and it needs to be managed lifelong with medication and lifestyle changes.
Parenting a child with Type 1 Diabetes includes learning to check your child’s blood sugar levels, finding out how to give insulin therapy, providing a healthy balanced diet to the child, and ensuring that they exercise regularly. It also includes providing emotional understanding and support to your child.