What is Type 1 Diabetes, and How Can it Affect Children?

For sugar to be allowed into cells to produce energy, the hormone insulin is needed. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Type 1 diabetes typically appears in childhood or adolescence but can develop in adults too. Being a parent of a type 1 diabetic can be tough. The new routine consists of managing blood sugars and having those tiny hands give themselves injections in many cases. It’s never fair to watch a child struggle with an illness. Although chronic, type 1 diabetes can be managed, and your child can have a long, full life.

Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms in Children

Type 1 diabetes in children typically develop quickly and can include:

  • Fruity smelling breath
  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Unintentional weight loss

Sugars continue to build up in your child’s bloodstream without insulin to absorb the blood cells. This causes life-threatening complications if left untreated. Keeping the blood sugar as close to normal as possible will help prevent long-term complications such as:

  • Nerve damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Heart and blood vessel disease
  • Eye damage

Risks and Causes of Type 1 Diabetes 

There is no exact cause of type 1 diabetes. However, in most people with type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells created by the pancreas. Genetic, family history and race (more common among white children of non-Hispanic origins) factors have also been shown to increase your risk of developing type 1 diabetes.  

Treatment Options

Diabetic testing and treatment supplies, glucose monitor, insulin needle, T1D, clinical research

Management of type 1 diabetes is a multi-faceted approach. Lifestyle changes such as limiting carbohydrates, eating healthy, and exercising are some of the things that will need to be done to help manage sugar levels outside of medicine. Since the body cannot produce enough insulin, it must be artificially replaced by an insulin substitute and other medications.

The caregiver of a child with type 1 diabetes will play an active role in keeping your child’s diabetes controlled. Their blood sugar will need to be taken 3-4 times per day unless they wear a continuous glucose monitor. Leading by example and choosing a healthy lifestyle, will help you not only take care of yourself but also your child.

Fatigue can be a sign of type 1 diabetes in children, young boy pictured, learn more about pediatric T1D clinical research studies

We still have a long way to go in learning more about type 1 diabetes and how we can better manage it. To learn more about participating in type 1 diabetes research studies, call (210) 614-8612 or visit us here.




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Dr. Mahendra Ghanta


Dr. Ghanta

Dr. Mahendra Ghanta is a Board-Certified Endocrinologist with a background in internal medicine. Dr. Ghanta is highly regarded by his patients and peers with over a decade of practicing medicine in Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and several states in the U.S.