Children with diabetes and their families face unique challenges as children learn, grow, and change physically and emotionally as they live with diabetes. Families who are caring for a child recently diagnosed with diabetes may find that they need to absorb a great deal of information and develop new daily habits. It can feel overwhelming.
Many people are relieved to find that NYPBMH's Diabetes Education and Resource Center provides a wealth of information and resources so that our patients don't have to cope with pediatric diabetes alone. It can also be comforting to find out that many people live long and active lives with diabetes. Both children and their families can find the support groups organized by NYPBMH's Diabetes Education and Resource Center especially useful.
The Center also includes doctors who specialize in managing diabetes in children, specialists in other related fields, and an on-site diabetes educator and nutritionist.
Understanding Pediatric Diabetes
Diabetes requires serious attention, but long-term complications can be prevented through early detection and consistent care.
Symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, unusually intense thirst or hunger, and unusually strong fatigue and irritability. Because these symptoms are common in children and can be attributed to so many causes, diabetes can be difficult to detect. To prevent long-term complications and to minimize immediate risks, it is very important that children experiencing symptoms of diabetes receive medical attention as soon as possible, even when there is significant doubt.
There are two major types of diabetes that affect children:
- Type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, used to be called "juvenile diabetes" because it often occurs in children. However, type 1 diabetes occurs in adults as well. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body makes no insulin. It usually appears suddenly. Children with type 1 diabetes are said to be insulin-dependent; they must receive daily injections of insulin or continuously connect to an insulin pump. Nutrition and exercise also play a significant role in the management of type 1 diabetes.
- Type 2, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, generally occurs in those over the age of 40, but it is increasingly seen in younger people, including children. Children who are overweight, have high blood pressure, or have a family history of diabetes are at risk of developing diabetes. Children with type 2 diabetes have varying levels of dependency on insulin and other medication. Often, nutrition and exercise can play a very significant role in the management of type 2 diabetes. In some cases, consistent healthy habits can have a dramatic affect on the disease.