The incidence of juvenile or child diabetes is increasingly on the rise. The most common form of child diabetes is Insulin dependent or Type 1 diabetes in which the pancreas fails to produce adequate insulin. Type 1 diabetes is also called as an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks the pancreas, causing it to fail.
This leads to a complete absence of insulin production. Child diabetes can be mentally and emotionally draining not only for the child but also for the parents. Constant supervision and diet control in very young children is required. Many times the child finds it difficult to self-monitor and exercise proper eating and exercise habits. The symptoms of child diabetes are weight loss, thirst, tiredness and frequent urination. Here are some ways and means of taking care of a diabetic child.
How To Care For A Diabetic Child
In case of type 1 diabetes, the dependence on insulin is lifelong. A plan for intake of insulin has to be chalked out in consultation with an endocrinologist. Most children have their own individual insulin routines in which long lasting or slow acting insulin is given at night and fast acting insulin is given during the day when the child’s energy levels are high. As the child grows older, injections may need to be taken at night. Parents themselves have to monitor the insulin intake and administer injections.
Like any diabetic, children too are prone to periods of sinking sugar levels or hypoglycaemia. This means that parents have to take utmost care in planning meals for their children. There should be a total ban on sugary foods. Small amounts should only be given in consultation with the doctor. A diet comprising of fruits, vegetables and complex carbs should be fed to the child.
Low glycemic index foods like beans, whole lentils and oats are excellent for children. The parents must be taught to feed their child at regular intervals so that the child does not feel hungry and his/her insulin levels remain stable. An individual meal plan will have to be chalked out depending on the activity levels of the child.
Exercise in diabetic children is crucial especially since most children these days are leading sedentary lifestyles. You will have to make a concerted effort to enrol your child in some form of physical activity be it a game of tennis or swimming. Let the child do what he/she enjoys. Exercise will go a long way in maintaining a healthy weight and preventing sudden spikes in the blood sugar levels. One hour of exercise 4-5 times a week is crucial.
Many young children will need paediatric counselling in order to cope with the disease especially children who face behavioural problems or feel anxious about not being able to lead a normal life. A lot many children feel upset because they cannot eat what they like or enjoy. Hence, gentle counselling and emotional support to the child is necessary.
For the Parents
The parents too have to be educated about all the symptoms of diabetes and need to be taught how to administer insulin injections to the child.