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Diabetes is a condition in which the body can't make enough insulin, or can't use insulin normally. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder. The body's immune system damages the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Insulin is a hormone. It helps sugar (glucose) in the blood get into cells of the body to be used as fuel. When glucose can’t enter the cells, it builds up in the blood. This is called high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). High blood sugar can cause problems all over the body. It can damage blood vessels and nerves. It can harm the eyes, kidneys, and heart. It can also cause symptoms such as tiredness.
Type 1 diabetes mellitus is a long-term (chronic) condition. It may start at any age. Only 5% of people with diabetes have type 1. Insulin from the pancreas must be replaced with insulin injections or an insulin pump.
There are two forms of type 1 diabetes:
A child is more at risk for type 1 diabetes if he or she has any of these risk factors:
Type 1 diabetes often appears suddenly. In children, type 1 diabetes symptoms may be like flu symptoms. Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. They can include:
The symptoms of type 1 diabetes can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. He or she may also ask about your family’s health history. He or she will give your child a physical exam. Your child may also have blood tests, such as:
Children with type 1 diabetes must have daily injections of insulin to keep the blood glucose level within normal ranges. Insulin is given either by injection or insulin pump. Your child’s healthcare provider will show you how to give your child insulin with either method.
Treatment will also include:
Type 1 diabetes can cause:
Your child’s healthcare provider will tell you how to avoid these problems.
Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels. Balancing insulin, diet, and activity can help keep blood sugar levels in the target range and help prevent complications such as:
A type 1 diabetes diagnosis can be stressful for a child and his or her family. A younger child may not understand all the life changes, such as glucose monitoring and insulin injections. A child may feel:
Parents can help their child by treating him or her as a normal child with diabetes management as just one aspect of their daily life.
Many areas have diabetes camps, support groups, and other organizations for children with type 1 diabetes and their families. Talk with your child’s healthcare provider for more information.
Call your child's healthcare team if you need help. Also call the healthcare team if your child:
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.