With November coming to a close, today is the last day of National Diabetes Month. Did you know that children and young adults can be diagnosed with diabetes? Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, director of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center, explains how to tell if your child might have diabetes. Rose Melendez

How common is diabetes in children and young people?

Nurse Rose: More than 200,000 people under age 20 in the U.S. have diagnosed diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But, there isn’t much information available undiagnosed diabetes in young people, so it’s tough to tell exactly how many children have diabetes.

How is diabetes different in children?

Nurse Rose: Most people are familiar with Type 2 diabetes – usually diagnosed in adults – this form of the disease is the most common type and can be related to diet and exercise. While it’s less common, children and young adults can also be diagnosed with diabetes – known as Type 1 diabetes, previously called juvenile diabetes.

Type 1 is an autoimmune response that causes a person’s body not to make any insulin at all. Insulin is a hormone that is essential for life and helps your body use sugar for energy. Without insulin, sugar builds up in the blood and could lead to life-changing complications over time.

How can parents tell if their child has diabetes?

Nurse Rose: This can be difficult because sometimes diabetes symptoms may seem minor at first. If your child is frequently complaining of these problems, take them to their pediatrician.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Extreme thirst and/or hunger even when eating
  • Excessive urination
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blurry vision
  • Extreme fatigue

What is the treatment for diabetes?

  • Insulin injections
  • Monitor blood glucose levels
  • A balanced, healthy diet
  • Regular exercise

If your child is diagnosed with diabetes, your child’s doctor or a registered dietitian can help you better understand how to manage their blood sugar levels with the right foods.

Have you or a loved one recently been diagnosed with diabetes? Find a registered dietitian, diabetes support group or healthy cooking classes through Adventist HealthCare.

Additional Health Tips from Rose

Find more family health tips online or tune into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. to hear Rose live.