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Diabetes in Children

Overview

Diabetes can affect anyone, including infants and children. If a child you love has diabetes, our experts are here to help. The pediatric clinic at UK Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center is staffed with a team of physicians, advanced practice providers, a certified social worker, and diabetes care and education specialists. Together, they provide the education and resources that children with diabetes and their families need to successfully manage the condition.

About 1 in 400 children develop Type 1 diabetes, which was formerly known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as adult-onset diabetes, is less common in children; however, due to the increasing rates of childhood obesity, Type 2 diabetes is now being diagnosed in more children as early as age 10.

When children are diagnosed with diabetes, a specialized team of diabetes experts like those available at UK Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center can help families, caregivers — and the children, themselves — understand the disease, how it impacts the child and how to manage it. Through our proactive approach to care, we’re able to help families identify their needs early, before long-term health issues develop.

Types

  • Type 1 diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin often due to autoimmune destruction of beta cells in the pancreas.
  • Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body does not react appropriately to insulin.
  • Prediabetes is diagnosed when blood glucose is elevated, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.

Symptoms

  • Excessive thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Increased frequency of urination and the possible return of bedwetting in potty-trained children
  • Increase in appetite
  • Irritability
  • Weight loss

Prevention

Type 1 diabetes has no known preventative measures. The risk for Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes may be reduced by eating a healthy diet, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight.

Risk factors for Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes

  • Family history of diabetes
  • Overweight or obese children
  • Certain ethnicities, including African American, Native American, Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diagnosis

    Medical history and symptom review. The provider will review the patient’s symptoms, lifestyle, family history and weight.

    Physical examination. The provider may perform other examinations of the heart, lungs, skin and neurologic system.

    Laboratory tests. Blood tests can be used to evaluate whether a child has diabetes or prediabetes. Lab tests will include a hemoglobin A1c (A1C), fasting blood glucose and glucose tolerance test.

  • Treatment

    Regular exercise and healthy diet are recommended for all types of diabetes, but medications may vary.

    Type 1 Diabetes:

    • Insulin injections are necessary since the body does not produce enough insulin.
    • An insulin pump, a small computerized device that delivers insulin through a catheter placed under the skin.

    Type 2 Diabetes:

    • Oral medication, such as metformin, may improve response to insulin.
    • If needed, insulin may be used to manage blood glucose.
  • Follow-up care

     

    • Routine follow-up visits and labs are recommended to assess blood glucose and for treatment adjustments.
    • Utilizing a team of pediatric diabetes experts (pediatricians, endocrinologists, and diabetes care and education specialists) is recommended.

    For more information about programs and services available at UK Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center, call 859-323-BBDC (2232). Select option 1 for the adult clinic; option 2 for the pediatric clinic; or option 3 for diabetes education services.