Diabetes, especially Type 1 diabetes, is a chronic disease that can occur at any age without any specific cause. It is commonly seen in kids aged between seven and 12 years.
Now, Type 1 diabetes is not a direct outcome of excessive consumption of sweets. Many experts say it can be genetic too. Irrespective of the reason, as a diabetic child grows older, s/he has to learn to take responsibility of managing the condition and accept that if not controlled at the right time, it can lead to complications.
Diabetes is a lifelong condition and its complications can be tackled with good glycemic control (carbohydrates count) and dietary consistency. A reason why parents should try to inculcate diabetes management habits at a much earlier age. They can, however, face some difficulties. At times, there can be unpredictable changes in blood sugar. Administering insulin doses in children can be challenging, especially when a child is not in a mood to eat or simply happens to be a picky eater. During these times, when kids eat less than what is required, one has to be careful with the insulin dose given to prevent the risk of hypoglycemia.
When children are sick and unwell, their appetite tends to decrease. Overall, decrease in carbohydrate consumption and increase in body temperature can decrease the need for insulin in the body. If a child is suffering from diarrhoea, one should make sure to give at least 15gms carbohydrates in every meal. Similarly, activity level tends to affect your body’s insulin requirement. If the child is very active, make sure one decreases the insulin dose or have 15 gms carbohydrates before every activity/play.
Remember hormonal changes can largely affect insulin requirements among children. During growth spurt and puberty in girls, the doses may increase. In such a scenario, please get the insulin regimen revised by your healthcare professional. One requires to monitor the blood sugar levels during those times.
The process of diabetic education cannot be completed within the first few days of diagnosis. However, some key points should be understood by parents as well as kids...
• Make sure to eat breakfast
• Requirements for vitamins, minerals, energy and protein are the same as for non-diabetic children.
• The child should never stay hungry. One may need to eat between meals.
• Avoid having too many sweets and sugary drinks at once.
• Limit the screen time of kids to less than two hours a day.
• A child must be able to recognise the symptoms of hypoglycemia.
• Extra carbohydrates must be consumed before any activity, particularly swimming. The food should be handy, easy to eat and in rapidly absorbable form, like candies, biscuits and energy bars.
• All children want to be a part of a peer group. And conscious attempts must be made to ensure that the child does not feel too different. Children should still be encouraged to have school meals with their friends.
• Children above the age of seven typically have fine motor skills to be able to start giving themselves insulin injections with adult supervision.
• Regular follow-ups with diabetologist are important to manage Type 1 diabetes in children.