5 Surprising Facts About Childhood Diabetes

Diabetes, especially type 2, is often associated with people over the age of 40. But there are many children throughout the world who suffer from this difficult disease.

It is important that awareness of childhood (juvenile) diabetes is increased. We at Fight Diabetes want to improve public understanding of this condition so that parents can identify diabetes in their children as early as possible.

With this in mind, let’s look at five surprising facts about childhood diabetes.

#1 It’s Not All Hereditary

While there is a genetic factor in type 1 diabetes, it isn’t a strictly hereditary disease. Type 2 diabetes isn’t either, but genetic predisposition along with other triggers, can increase the likelihood of developing the disease.

One trigger might be related to cold weather. Type 1 diabetes develops more often in winter than summer and is more common in places with cold climates.

Another trigger might be viruses. Perhaps a virus that has only mild effects on most people triggers type 1 diabetes in others.

Early diet may also play a role. Type 1 diabetes is less common in people who were breastfed and in those who first ate solid foods at later ages.

It’s important that parents understand that even if there is no history of diabetes in their families, their children can still become diabetic.

#2 Most Childhood Diabetes is Seen in Caucasian Populations

Childhood diabetes is lot more prevalent in white populations. 71% of childhood diabetes cases were in those with a white background according to recent research. Of course this doesn’t mean that children from other ethnic backgrounds can’t develop diabetes, it just means that it is less likely.

#3 Sugar Isn’t the Main Cause

While increased blood sugar levels are often a tell-tale sign of diabetes, eating large amounts of sugar isn’t always the main issue. Other foods such as rice, potatoes and other carbohydrates are more specifically connected to a child’s blood sugar levels.

The reason that sugar itself is often associated with diabetes is because sugar is fattening and is often included in childhood treats such as candy or ice cream. When larger amounts are consumed a child’s weight can spiral out of control, making them more susceptible to developing diabetes.

This doesn’t mean that children can’t enjoy treats if they suffer from diabetes, it just means that they have to be very careful with their diet and consult a doctor before knowing whether it’s ok to have an occasional cake or piece of candy.

 

#4 Diabetes Can Be Controlled Through Lifestyle Changes

Diabetes itself can actually be controlled in many circumstances.  Research shows that exercise is an integral part of preventing diabetes or controlling the disease. When parents first hear that their children may be developing diabetes, they worry that medications will be required to control the condition. While this is true, lifestyle changes can have a huge impact and can negate the need for more serious medical intervention. In an era where many children play video-games rather than than exercise, it’s more important than ever to nurture good fitness and physical health.

 

#5 Three Signs of Childhood Diabetes

There are three symptoms of diabetes which can help parents identify whether their child might be having an issue. These are:

  1. Increased bed-wetting and other accidents.
  2. Increased thirst which seems to be unquenchable no matter how many fluids are taken.
  3. Dehydration other than thirst such as a dry mouth or lack of tears or dried eyes which indicates that there may not be enough fluid in a child’s body.

 

We hope these five facts about childhood diabetes will help to increase awareness of the condition. If your child suffers from diabetes we’d love to hear how you have approached this issue, so that it may help other parents out there. Please do leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

Sripathi R. Kethu, M.D. FACG.

Sripathi R. Kethu, M.D. FACG.

Dr Kethu is a Gastroenterologist in Dallas.
Sripathi R. Kethu, M.D. FACG.

Sripathi R. Kethu, M.D. FACG.

Dr Kethu is a Gastroenterologist in Dallas.

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