How to support a child with diabetes
November is American Diabetes Month. Many people think of diabetes as an adult problem, but kids and teenagers can develop diabetes as well. Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, offers her advice for parents to help children with diabetes live happy, healthy lives.
How common is diabetes in children?
Nurse Rose: In the last several years, diabetes has become more common in young people with about 193,000 children and young adults under age 20 diagnosed with diabetes in 2015, according to the American Diabetes Association.
What is diabetes?
Nurse Rose: Diabetes is a disease in which the levels of blood glucose, or blood sugar, are higher than normal.
How can parents who have children with diabetes ensure they are safe at school?
Nurse Rose: If you have a little one with diabetes, try these tips to help them stay healthy at school.
- Involve your child’s doctor. Work with your child’s doctor to create a Diabetes Medical Management plans that details your child’s school diabetes care regimen including their typical symptoms, what snacks he or she uses to treat it and who can give the child medication injections.
- Write a 504 Plan or Individualized Education Program. Work with your child’s school to develop a plan that explains the school’s responsibility for your child’s care including who can care for your child.
- Pack a “Lows” Box. Provide a box to the school containing the child’s medication or snacks used if the child’s blood sugar drops too low.
- Build Your Child’s Confidence. Teach your child to check their own blood sugar at home so they have the confidence to take care of themselves and get help if needed.
As teens with diabetes become more independent and do activities with less adult supervision, how can parents continue to support them?
Nurse Rose: For parents with teenagers who might attend activities or parties where there’s food served, try these tips.
- Talk to your doctor. Ask your child’s doctor about how to best cover extra carbs with extra medication on special occasions.
- Recruit help. If you are not attending, ensure that your child has your phone number and recruit an adult who knows how to care for a child with diabetes.
- Ask first. Teach your child to ask what’s in the food if he or she is unsure.
- Check it out. Your child’s blood sugar should be checked more frequently when they are eating unfamiliar food.
- Look it up. Give your child a carb counting guide.