KidsMD Health Topics

Type 1 Diabetes in Children

  • Discovering that your child has diabetes can be upsetting and stressful for the whole family. On these pages, we’ll give you the basic information and skills you’ll need to care for your child, including an understanding of the major forms of the disease—especially type 1 diabetes.

    • Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease—more specifically, a disorder of carbohydrate metabolism—in which the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas (called beta cells).
       
    • About one in every 600 children in the United States develops type 1 diabetes. While type 1 diabetes accounts for only about 10 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes in the country, it’s one of the most common chronic diseases in children.
       
    • Most of the time, it occurs during puberty, when girls are 10 to 12 years old and when boys are 12 to 14 years old. But it’s increasing in young children under 5 years old.
       
    • Type 1 diabetes tends to run in families. Brothers and sisters of children with type 1 diabetes have about a 10 percent chance of also developing the disease by age 50.
       
    • With proper attention to maintaining the balance among your child’s food, exercise and insulin (if needed), she should not only be OK—she should be able to maintain good general health. But untreated diabetes can be dangerous and lead to damage to nerves, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and circulation.

    How Children’s Hospital Boston approaches type 1 diabetes
     

    Children’s Diabetes Program provides children and families with a multidisciplinary diabetes team of pediatric endocrinologists, diabetes nurse-educators, staff nurses, registered nutritionists and medical social workers. Our goals are:

    • to help you manage the medical, nutritional and psycho-social needs of your child or teen with diabetes
    • to empower children and young adults with diabetes to live normal lives

    Children’s has been ranked second in the nation in Diabetes by U.S. News & World Report for 2009-10 We provide comprehensive services for infants, children, adolescents and young adults with all types of diabetes. This includes type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, steroid-induced diabetes, post-pancreatectomy diabetes and other rare forms of diabetes.

    Our services include:

    • diagnostic evaluation
    • management of the acute complications of diabetes
    • long-term management and follow-up care

    Our team understands the physical and emotional challenges diabetes presents for both child and family—and we’re here to help you every step of the way.

    Diabetes type 1: Reviewed by Maryanne Quinn, MD, MPH
    © Children’s Hospital Boston, 2011

     

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