National Diabetes Month 2019

A mother and son are sitting together in a living room. She is helping him check his blood sugar levels because he is diabetic.

Tips for caring for a child with Type 1 diabetes

If your child has been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, or you think he or she may be at risk, you probably have a lot of questions. Sara Moassesfar, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist, shares some insight on the condition and some tips for caregivers.

Diabetes is a common long-term condition that affects how the body uses glucose, a type of sugar in the blood. So, it is important to know the signs and symptoms of high blood sugar.

Dr. Moassesfar explains, “The most common symptom of high blood sugar is being very thirsty and urinating often. Other signs could be nausea, vomiting, belly pain or weight loss. Sometimes children will complain of blurry vision from the high sugars. If these symptoms present in a child, parents should definitely see their pediatrician and have their child’s blood sugar checked.”

The pediatrician will usually run lab tests and check the child’s urine for sugar. If a child is found to have diabetes, the child will be admitted to the hospital so the family can learn how to manage the condition in a supportive environment.

“In the initial stages, we teach families how to check blood sugars, how to count carbohydrates, calculate insulin dosing, and administer insulin. We teach them what to do if the sugar goes too high or if sugars go too low. We like to have the family in the hospital initially, so they won’t have to do any of this alone and we can guide them the whole time,” according to Dr. Moassesfar.

While there is no cure for Type 1 diabetes, there are many things you can do to manage the condition and keep your child healthy. “Parents should make sure that the sugars are checked regularly, the carbs in snacks and meals are counted properly, and the insulin dose is calculated properly,” she recommends.

Managing diabetes can be stressful for the entire family, so Dr. Moassesfar emphasizes the importance of emotional support throughout this journey.

“There is a high percentage of depression in patients with diabetes because it can be a very isolating condition. Children might find it embarrassing or they don’t want to be seen as different from their peers,” she said.

 “It is helpful for parents to be in tune to what their child’s emotional and mental health needs are and help them get the extra resources that they need. That’s a big way that families can help.” Children with diabetes can still enjoy happy, healthy lives when their condition is well-controlled. “I just want to remind everyone that children with diabetes can do everything that other children can do. They can be just as healthy, just as strong. There should not be limitations as long as they’re watching their sugars and giving insulin.”

Learn more about Type 1 diabetes in children >


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