Juvenile Diabetes

Children can be affected by two types of diabetes. The most common form of diabetes that affects children is diabetes mellitus, type I. Often this is referred to as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. The second type of diabetes is very rare in children, but common in adults. It is termed, diabetes mellitus, type II or non-insulin dependent diabetes.

Type I Diabetes Mellitus

Our body uses sugar (glucose) for energy. Glucose is found in many foods, especially sweets and high-carbohydrate foods (pasta, bread etc.) Without it, we cannot survive. When we ingest glucose, our pancreas (an organ in the abdomen) secretes a chemical, insulin. Insulin is crucial in helping the body to use glucose. In children with type I diabetes, the pancreas stops making insulin, so the body is unable to utilize glucose. As a result, the unused glucose accumulates in the blood and can cause serious complications if not treated.

Type I diabetes affects nearly 2 in every 1,000 school age children. The cause is still not completely understood, although there is some evidence of a genetic predisposition and also a link between some infections that may damage the pancreas. Early signs of the disease usually include frequent urination, excessive hunger and thirst and some weight loss within a month.

Type I diabetes can be treated effectively by taking insulin. Treatment is a balancing act between diet, exercise, blood-glucose levels, and the amount and type of insulin taken. Your doctor plays a crucial role in monitoring your child's health and determining the best treatment options. With proper treatment, most children can live very normal lives with type I diabetes.

For more information visit the American Diabetes Association online: