Childhood Diabetes

One of the most common childhood diseases, childhood diabetes affects 215,000 youngsters in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each year, another 15,600 kids are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and there is a growing number of type 2 diabetes diagnoses.

Children and adolescents diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are generally between 10 and 19 years old, obese, have a strong family history for type 2 diabetes and have insulin resistance.

BayCare offers classes for parents with children diagnosed with diabetes. For children diagnosed with diabetes in the last three months, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation can provide them with an educational, comforting "Bag of Hope."

If your child has not been diagnosed, but has any of the symptoms below, please call your doctor.

Symptoms of type 1 may include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor on breath
  • Increased appetite
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Drowsiness, lethargy
  • Heavy, labored breathing
  • Stupor, unconsciousness

Treatment & Management

While there is no cure for diabetes, it can be managed so as to prevent future health problems. The four main goals for parents, as well as the child, should be to take insulin as prescribed, eat healthy, monitor blood sugar levels, and get plenty of exercise.

  • Insulin must be injected. Your child needs to understand that insulin cannot be swallowed like a pill because the juices in the stomach would destroy the insulin. Most kids require at least two injections per day unless they use an insulin pump. Your doctor will explain what is best for your child.
  • Health eating at scheduled times will help maintain glucose levels. Foods with carbohydrates make blood sugars rise more than proteins and fats. A certified diabetes educator can help you customize an appropriate meal plan for your child.
  • Monitoring blood sugar level frequency and determining your child's ideal sugar level will be accomplished with your doctor. Blood glucose meters have improved greatly in recent years, and the pain of checking has been minimized.
  • Exercise and physical activity helps control blood sugar levels. Your doctor may recommend having your child eat a snack before physical activity. It will also be important for you, or your older child, to monitor sugar levels before or after rigorous activities.

Find a pediatric endocrinologist for your child or call (855) 404-3339 for a physician referral.

Learn more about Pediatric Diabetes and Endocrinology Services.