Diabetes has three types, of which type-1 diabetes is a common condition in teens and children. With type-1 diabetes, the pancreas is not able to produce insulin, which is a hormone that helps glucose, or sugar, get into your cells to give them energy. Without insulin, too much sugar tends to stay in the blood. Type-1 diabetes in children requires consistent care and attention; however, advances in blood sugar monitoring and insulin delivery have improved the daily management of this health condition. According to Dr. Ravishankar Marpalli, Pediatrician, BR Life SSNMC Hospital, "Childhood type-1 diabetes is caused by the autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic B-cells. While diabetes can be seen at any age, type-1 diabetes is seen among the children around the age of puberty. But the sedentary lifestyle and rise in obesity has increased the risk of type-2 diabetes among children of less than 5 years."
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Causes of type-1 diabetes in kids
While causes of type-1 diabetes are unknown, most children with this condition may have a weaker immune system that tends to destroy insulin-producing cells by mistake. Some of the risk factors for type-1 diabetes may include family history, genetic susceptibility, viruses (in the environment), and diet.
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Signs and symptoms of type-1 diabetes
A few signs and symptoms of type-1 diabetes may include:
- Weight loss
- Fruity-smelling breath
- Blurred vision
- Extreme hunger
- Increased thirst and frequent urination
- Irritability or behaviour changes
- Yeast infections in girls
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As per Dr. Ravishankar Marpalli, "Kids with type-1 diabetes need to take insulin every day to control the glucose level in their body. This is for the lifetime. If they stop insulin, the life expectancy may become shorter. It is harder for the kids to accept diabetes as they have to use insulin regularly."
World Diabetes Day 2018: Dietary tips to manage type-1 diabetes in kids:
According to Dr. Marpalli, "Breastfeeding can provide protective effect against type-1 diabetes. It is proposed that the presence of antimicrobials and anti-inflammatory agents in the breast milk and substances that promote the maturation of the immune system in human milk create a protective effect against type-1 diabetes. Proper nutrition during the first few months of life can prevent the appearance of diabetes. Breast milk results in greater satiety than infant formulas, preventing the development of obesity. Children who receive breast milk in the initial few months have a lower risk of being overweight during childhood, adolescence which will avoid developing type-2 Diabetes."
Here are some dietary tips that can help manage blood sugar levels in kids, as suggested by Dr. Marpalli:
1. There is a huge change in the diet of children who happen to have type-1 diabetes. To avoid kids with diabetes to feel depressed about their diet, make them eat ice-cream or sweets once in a while and control on other dietary aspects.
2. Kids with diabetes should take proper meals during regular intervals.
3. Parents should be an example for the kids. They should avoid junk and instead choose to eat healthy food. Children tend to learn what they see, so you, as parents, have to take the initiative to toss away unhealthy food in your diet.
4. Keep your kids away from processed foods. These foods are high in carbohydrates and sugar, both of which are responsible for spiking blood sugar levels, further causing complications in the body.
5. Kids love aerated drinks, and sugary beverages. These zero-nutrition beverages can increase the chances of developing diabetes. Try and limit the consumption of these drinks that may only up the chances of developing this lifestyle condition.
6. Cut down the consumption of carbohydrates and include complex carbs like vegetables and grains.
7. Include kids-friendly choices like low-fat string cheese, a hard-boiled egg, or a small serving of nuts with a sugar-free drink for snacks.
8. Do include more fibre- and protein- rich foods in their diet. Prepare interesting and delicious delicacies that they can enjoy.
Apart from these, make sure you encourage your child to pick a physical activity of his/her choice. Make sure s/he has an active lifestyle; give your child an option to engage in swimming, skipping, jogging, and playing outdoor sports. In fact, you must set an example for them. Go out and play with them and encourage them to stay physically fit.