How to Raise a Children with Type 1 Diabetes

June 20, 2019
Type 1 diabetes, which occurs most frequently among children and adolescents, is present in about 1.25 million Americans. Learn some tips for raising a child who has Type 1 diabetes in this article.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease. However, when properly controlled, it doesn’t necessarily diminish the quality of life of those who are afflicted by it. Children with diabetes require specific care, but they can still lead a normal life.

Today, we’ll explain a little more about this disease. We’ll also give you some advice on how to raise a child with this condition.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that develops during childhood. It affects the cells that produce insulin. Overall, it represents between 10% of cases of diabetes and it has a high incidence between the ages of 10 and 15 years.

In those with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas loses its ability to make insulin because the immune system itself attacks and destroys the beta cells that synthesize and secrete insulin.

Insulin, a peptide hormone, regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and protein by promoting the absorption of carbohydrates. That includes glucose from the blood into the liver, fat and skeletal muscle cells which are necessary to produce energy. Therefore, it’s vital to counteract this deficit.

A display of sugar cubes and letters spelling diabetes.
Currently, there’s no cure for type 1 diabetes. However, it can be treated by focusing on controlling blood glucose levels. You can do that by administering insulin regularly and leading a healthy lifestyle.

The underlying cause of type 1 diabetes is uncertain. However, some believe that factors such as genetics and certain viruses contribute to the appearance of its symptoms. Even though the onset for type 1 diabetes is usually during childhood or preadolescence, it can also begin in adulthood.

Read more: 7 Clues for Detecting Diabetes Early

Advice for Raising Children with Type 1 Diabetes

A boy testing a sample from his finger supervised by a woman.
A healthy lifestyle will be key in the control of type 1 diabetes.

Next, we’ll present a series of general recommendations so that both your family and the affected child can cope with type 1 diabetes and so that the disease doesn’t compromise their quality of life.

1. Increase Your Knowledge of Type 1 Diabetes

If your child is diagnosed, then it’s very important that they know the basic aspects of the disease. Also, it’s crucial that you help them carry out a process of normalization within their closest environment. This helps them to adapt to their new lifestyle.

Family members and teachers must know the procedure for action and participate in the pharmacological and emotional care of the child.

2. Understand the Dietary Guidelines

A display of those things needed to keep diabetes in check (exercise, medical supervision, nutricion, measuring devices).
A child with diabetes must be in control of the foods they eat throughout their life.

Food is key in the treatment of children with type 1 diabetes. Therefore, it’s very important that both at home and at school, they remain in control and follow specific regimes.

The main things to take into account are:

  • A balanced diet: The child should know how to control the amount of fat they ingest since it decreases the effects of insulin and leads to obesity. For example, fruits and vegetables, as well as high-quality proteins and complex carbohydrates, should all be a part of all their meals.
  • They should limit their consumption of simple carbohydrates. It’s essential to restrict the intake of these in order to avoid sudden increases in blood glucose. Foods to avoid due to their high content of added sugar include highly processed pastries, juices, syrups, cookies and all forms of prepackaged junk food.
  • Parents should ask teachers for the school’s cafeteria weekly menus. In addition, if the child is very young, then educators must know that these children need to have a second breakfast or lunch so their blood sugar levels remain stable.

Read more: The Most Effective Natural Remedies for Diabetes

3. Use Pharmacological Treatment

Children with type 1 diabetes must inject insulin several times a day: fast-acting insulin before each meal and slow-acting once or twice a day.

Try to administer the drug in a relaxed environment and preferably at home. Teachers have to know the procedure in case the child is too young and needs help administering the injections.

4. Blood Sugar Control

Type 1 diabetes: A person's pinched finger to test for glucose levels.
A child can easily perform their periodic sugar checks with a portable glucometer.

Children with diabetes need to be periodically checked, through a small prick on their index finger, to know what their blood glucose levels.

At school, they should be able to do it in class or any other place where they feel comfortable doing it.

5. Exercise

Children with diabetes can perform the same physical activities as other children of their age. As long as they follow a series of guidelines, that is:

  • They should measure their blood sugar before and after exercise to adapt their meals, if necessary.
  • Parents or teachers who are present during the child’s physical activity sessions should have quick access to foods rich in carbohydrates. This in the event of a sudden drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

Type 1 Diabetes: Summary

The current tools used in the control of type 1 diabetes allow a good quality of life for those afflicted with it.

In the case of children, all adults around them should know the characteristics of the disease. This in order to be able to lead and help them in their proper control of blood sugar.

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  • Sievenpiper, J. L., Chan, C. B., Dworatzek, P. D., Freeze, C., & Williams, S. L. (2018). Nutrition Therapy. Canadian Journal of Diabetes. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcjd.2017.10.009
  • Graf, C., & Ferrari, N. (2016). Metabolic Syndrome in Children and Adolescents. Visceral Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1159/000449268
  • DiMeglio, L. A., Evans-Molina, C., & Oram, R. A. (2018). Type 1 diabetes. The Lancet. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31320-5
  • Colberg, S. R., Sigal, R. J., Yardley, J. E., Riddell, M. C., Dunstan, D. W., Dempsey, P. C., … Tate, D. F. (2016). Physical activity/exercise and diabetes: A position statement of the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc16-1728