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Today in this article, we will be discussing diabetes amongst children and the exact reasons why does a child get diabetes?
Recently a report named National Diabetes Statistics Report 2020 was released that have provided the general mass with estimated data on the presence and prevalence of diabetes amongst adults and children. While the prevalence of diabetes amongst adults is concerning, the report also included children and adolescents.
The study indicated that during 2014-15, the estimated number of newly diagnosed cases in the United States included 18,291 children and adolescents under 20 years of age who have Type 1 diabetes, whereas 5,758 children and adolescents under 19 had Type 2 diabetes.
The report further talks about the rise in the number of cases amongst the children from 2002 to 2015, hence showing the alarming rise in the number of cases. So this does raise the question – Why does a child get diabetes? But before we try and understand why does a child get diabetes, let’s first understand what exactly is diabetes.
What is Diabetes
Diabetes is a metabolic disease that causes the blood sugar level/ blood glucose levels to rise in your body. This is mainly caused due to insufficiency of insulin or the inefficiency of the pancreas to produce insulin for effective consumption. Sometimes the body is unable to utilize insulin even if the pancreas produces the apt amount of insulin.
There are mainly two types of diabetes. The first type is Type 1 diabetes, in which our immune system destroys the cells responsible for producing insulin hence causing irregular blood glucose levels. The other type is Type 2 diabetes, in which the body becomes resistant to insulin or isn’t able to produce enough of it. We will now further discuss the reasons why does a child get diabetes ahead in the article.
Why Does a Child Get Diabetes
Now that we have a basic understanding of diabetes, we can further discuss diabetes; specifically, the question of ‘Why does a child get diabetes?’ in perspective.
The above research has found more children with Type 1 diabetes than Type 2, but there has been a steady rise in Type 2 cases since 2002, and one of the major reasons has been obesity. Obesity has been on a steady rise amongst young people.
Children who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of contracting Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is called adult-onset diabetes, but it is possible to get it in childhood as well.
Type 1 diabetes was also called juvenile diabetes because of how rare Type 2 diabetes was in children but with the increase in obesity amongst young children, Type 2 has become more common in kids. Type 2 diabetes can be genetic as well.
Children with parents or a family member with diabetes are at an increased risk of genetically acquiring it.
Type 2 diabetes might be an effect of external forces such as weight, lifestyle, and genetics, whereas Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune reaction.
This means that the body mistakenly destroys cells responsible for producing the hormone insulin. Type 1 is more commonly found in children and affects the blood glucose level in the child’s blood.
Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes in Children
Some symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Possible bedwetting in toilet trained children
- Fruity-smelling breath
- Extreme hunger
- Weight loss and fatigue
Contact your healthcare provider or your child’s doctor if they show early signs of type 1 diabetes.
Doctors haven’t found an exact reason why Type 1 diabetes happens and why the body reacts to beta cells that produce insulin. Family history might play a role in this as children with family members with type 1 are at higher risk of getting diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes can develop quickly and as early as four years of age. The autoimmune response of the body starts attacking beta cells in the pancreas and causing high blood sugar levels. This leads to the body not getting enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels and can contribute to other risk factors.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes in Children
Type 2 diabetes used to be more common amongst adults, but due to the rise of obesity amongst kids, Type 2 diabetes has become more common and is causing health problems. Some symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Weight loss
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Darkened area of skin such as armpits and neck
- Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
Sometimes diabetes goes unnoticed amongst children, so if you think you have found your child’s symptoms, it is advisable for you to visit a healthcare professional. The cause of diabetes in other children can include genetics and family history.
A child with parents or siblings with diabetes is at higher risk of getting diabetes as well. Children with fat around the abdomen area are more prone to insulin resistance which is a major reason why does a child gets diabetes.
Race and ethnicity can also factor in why does a child get diabetes. It hasn’t been found why but certain races are more prone to getting diabetes. Age and sex can also affect the development of diabetes in adolescents. Girls are more prone to develop diabetes in their early teens.
Other than these, inactivity or less physically active kids are at risk of getting diabetes.
Untreated diabetes can lead to long-term consequences that can turn life-threatening. A proper treatment plan is required to help the child suffering from this disease.
Some of the complications that can arise due to diabetes are high blood pressure, nonalcoholic liver disease, digestive and kidney diseases, diseases related to blood vessels, heart disease and blood vessel disease, blindness, and high cholesterol.
Type 2 diabetes can cause complications in the long run, which develop gradually over a long time.
Diabetes can also lead to Osteoporosis, in which the bone mineral density is lower than normal.
Diagnosis for Type 1 Diabetes
To get a correct diagnosis, doctors might take a random blood sugar test.
Other tests include the Glycated Haemoglobin (A1C) test, which indicates the average blood sugar level for the last three months, and the fasting blood sugar test, which is done after the child has fasted overnight.
After preliminary testing, if the results are found positive, further testing will be done to distinguish if it is Type 1 diabetes or Type 2. These tests may include a urine test to find ketones and blood tests to check antibodies that are common in Type 1.
Diagnosis for Type 2 Diabetes
Diagnosis includes random blood sugar test, A1C test, fasting blood sugar test, and oral glucose tolerance test. After preliminary testing, your doctor might suggest further testing if the results come positive to further distinguish between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Apart from this, talk to your doctor regarding any concerns you have. Ask him why does a child get diabetes and discuss all your doubts and concerns. Have a healthy chat with your doctor about it.
It is also important for you to have a conversation with your kid about why does a child get diabetes and make them understand why they need to take better care of themselves, and also assure them that they have your support no matter what.
Diabetes is not a curable disease; even though there is active research being held, there is no particular cure for it. But there are effective methods to keep blood glucose levels in check and maintain low blood sugar. Providing proper medical care and attention can help your kid with leading a normal and healthy life.
Insulin is the most effective way of lowering blood glucose levels. Types of insulin may include short-acting insulin, long-acting insulin and etc. These insulins are divided into categories on the basis of how much time they take to activate. Effective ways of taking insulin include insulin injections, insulin pumps, and insulin pens.
2. Blood Sugar Monitoring
A constant check on blood glucose levels is a must. A blood test has to be carried out at least four times a day. The aim is to maintain the target range set for your child. Glucose monitoring devices can also be used to keep a check on your child’s sugar level. This is especially important for type 1 diabetes patients.
3. Healthy Diet
It is advisable to consume food rich in nutrients and low on fats and calories. Eat vegetables, fruits, proteins, and whole grains.
Type 2 diabetes patients should avoid food that might lead to weight gain, such as soft drinks. Eating healthy is the best way of avoiding facing the question of why does a child get diabetes.
4. Physical Activity
Obesity has been linked as one of the measure reasons why does a child get diabetes. Limiting screen time and increasing physical activity in children is a good way of lowering blood sugar levels. Make sure that your kid gets at least 60 mins of aerobic exercise daily and make it a part of their routine.
It is said that prevention is better than cure, so here are some tips to prevent diabetes from happening and hoping that you never have to ask the question of why does a child get diabetes.
- Try to maintain a weight that is healthy. If your kid is struggling with obesity or is overweight, try to find a professional to help. The idea here is to achieve a healthy weight balance so that they can live a better and healthier life.
- Get physical activity. Get your kids physical activity as it’s a natural way to bring the sugar level down.
- Make good and healthy changes not just for your kid but for your whole family.
- Provide them with well-rounded nutritious food, including fats and carbs, but under close monitoring.
So here we end our discussion of why does a child get diabetes. I hope you got all the information and guidance you were looking for. Please contact a healthcare professional if you feel any symptoms are being shown by your child.
Have a discussion about why does a child get diabetes with your doctor. Please provide support to your kid as this might be a difficult time for them and also take care of yourself.
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