Is your child diabetic? Here’s how you can helpNot that long ago, the majority of children who were diagnosed with diabetes had type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that prevents the body from producing insulin. But now, the number of children with type 2 diabetes, where the body can produce insulin but develops resistance to it, is growing. In fact, a recent study found 3,700 new cases of type 2 diabetes in children and teens. Dr. Rebecca Denison, a registered dietitian at the Geckle Diabetes & Nutrition Center at GBMC, shared her advice on how parents can help when their children are diagnosed with either type of diabetes.
“This can be a scary diagnosis for kids,” she said. “Parents can help them understand it and learn how to manage their condition. If your child has type 1 diabetes, you might tell him or her that there’s something missing that their body needs to work well and their medication gives them that missing ingredient. If they have type 2 diabetes, you can say there’s something in the body that’s not working as well as it could and this medication will help it work better.”
Dr. Denison also shared strategies to help children who are afraid of the needles needed for insulin injections and the finger stick needed for blood glucose testing, the potential complications that can develop if diabetes is not well managed, and the signs parents should be aware of that could mean their child has diabetes or prediabetes.
For children with type 2 diabetes, she recommended a family approach to lifestyle changes that can help get blood sugar under control. “A healthy lifestyle to manage diabetes is easier when everyone in the family participates. Everybody is eating smaller portions, choosing healthier foods and skipping junk food, getting regular exercise and enough sleep, and managing stress. That way, the child doesn’t feel deprived and learns healthy habits that will last a lifetime.”