- / Diabetes in children
Diabetes in children
Diabetes is a disorder where your body can’t make enough insulin or body can’t use insulin produced normally by pancreas. Childhood diabetes is normally an autoimmune disorder. The body’s immune system damages the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone, helping glucose in your blood get into cells of the body for energy. When glucose can’t enter the cells, it builds up in the blood, causing high blood sugar or hyperglycaemia. It can damage your blood vessels, nerves, eyes, kidneys, and heart in the long run.
Until recently, the common type of diabetes in children and teens was type 1. It was called juvenile diabetes. With Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not make insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose, or sugar, get into your cells to give them energy. Without insulin, too much sugar stays in the blood.
Now younger people are also getting type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes. But now it is becoming more common in children and teens, due to more obesity. With Type 2 diabetes, the body does not make or use insulin well.
What causes diabetes in children:
Type 1 diabetes most often occurs in children but can occur at any age. Risk factors for type 1 diabetes in children include family history with any parent or siblings with type 1 diabetes has a slightly increased risk of developing the condition again. Certain genes indicate an increased risk of type 1 diabetes. Exposure to various viruses may trigger the autoimmune destruction of the islet cells too.
Exact cause of type 2 diabetes is unknown. Family history and genetic reasons might play a pivotal role. Insulin is produced by pancreas, which secretes insulin to the blood when food is taken. The reasons can be genetic, obesity, especially if you carry your extra pounds around your belly region, metabolic syndrome. Inactivity, consumption of excessive red meat and processed meat, drinking excess sugar-sweetened beverages are also associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Type 1 diabetes in children
Type 1 diabetes sometimes appears suddenly. Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. The symptoms include increased thirst, frequent urination, possibly bed-wetting in a toilet-trained child, extreme hunger, unintentional weight loss, fatigue, irritability or behaviour changes, fruity-smelling breath, unusual thirst, frequent dehydration, loss of appetite, blurred vision, nausea & vomiting, abdominal pain, irritability & mood changes, serious diaper rash, fruity breath & fast breathing, yeast infection in girls, darkened areas of skin, most often around the neck or in the armpits, frequent infections etc.
- Type 2 diabetes in children
Type 2 diabetes in children is a chronic disease that affects the way your child’s body processes glucose for fuel. Without treatment, the disorder causes sugar to build up in the bloodstream, which can lead to serious long-term consequences. Type 2 diabetes occurs more commonly in adults. In fact, it used to be called adult-onset diabetes. But the increasing number of children with obesity has led to more cases of type 2 diabetes in younger people.
Why is diabetes in India increasing?
Western diet is becoming more popular in India, with more refined carbohydrates like Maida, processed foods, and trans fats. As the urbanisation of cities continues, more people are leading less active, sedentary lives, ultimately leading to diabetes.
Increase in diabetes in India is due to many reasons. Lack of education about diabetes and its prevention strategies, vegetarian food choices that are high in carbohydrates, oils, and fats (butter, ghee, cheese, paneer), increased consumption of processed meats, low consumption of fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, less exercise, more screen time, tobacco use, excessive alcohol use, environmental pollution, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, all trigger diabetes in the long run.
How can you prevent the occurrence of diabetes?
Prevention is possible to a great extent by diabetes screening and continuous education, early diagnosis & treatment, cholesterol & blood pressure control. You can help your child prevent diabetes complications by working closely with your child to maintain good blood sugar control, teaching your child the importance of healthy eating and participating in regular physical activities, and with regular yoga practices. To prevent diabetic chances, you should lead healthy-lifestyle choices in children, encouraging them to eat healthy foods, low in fat and calories. Give importance to more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid carbohydrate rich foods like white rice, refined flours, fast foods, salty foods as well as sweet syrups. Encourage your child to become more active. Incline your child for sports activities or dance coaching. Better make it a family affair. The lifestyle choices that can help prevent type 2 diabetes in children can do the same for adults too.
Since global prevalence of diabetes is multiplying around the globe, India is very much active in the diagnostic segment. Intricate set of factors like genetic components, abrupt shift in eating habits and sedentary lifestyle make the scenario really critical for India. Still, we have developed ample facilities for access to diabetes. Of course, timely care and proper education are important steps to manage this predicament affecting our youth and middle-aged strata of our production population.