How Does Diabetes Affect Children?

Children may develop type 1 or type 2 diabetes. However, type 1 diabetes in children is more often than not. Tandem Diabetes has more data on this occurrence on their website. The type 1 version occurs when the child’s pancreas does not produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes occurs if the pancreas does not produce enough insulin.

The body might also develop insulin resistance. The hormone must be present for glucose to pass from the bloodstream into the cells for energy. Both types of diabetes interfere with the process.

Certain factors increase the likelihood that a child develops diabetes. The factors include:

• Family history of type 1 or type 2 diabetes

• Being obese

• Being of Asian or Black ethnicity

• Exhibiting symptoms of insulin resistance that include darkened skin in body creases.

Type 1 Diabetes

When afflicted with type 1 of the disorder, children exhibit four primary symptoms are referred to as the four Ts.

Toilet: Infants may have heavier diapers secondary to increased urination. Youngsters may go to the bathroom more frequently or develop a bedwetting problem. Excessive urination is the body’s way of eliminating high glucose levels from the blood.

Thirst: Type 1 diabetes in children often consume more fluids than usual. Yet, they continue being thirsty. The symptom is the body’s way of trying to dilute the glucose level in the body, which in turn converts to urine.

Tired: Regardless of a child’s diet, they become tired more easily. The problem occurs when cells cannot receive glucose for energy throughout the body.

Thinner: Children with type 1 diabetes often begin to lose weight mysteriously despite being constantly hungry.

Additional symptoms may include:

• Chronic yeast infections in girls leading to genital irritation

• Irritable temperament

• Fruit breath smell

• Blurred vision

• Dry eyes

The longer a child suffers from the disorder without treatment, the greater the likelihood of developing diabetic ketoacidosis or DKA. As the cells begin starving from a lack of glucose, the body resorts to consuming fat cells for energy. The process causes raised levels of ketones in the blood, which puts the body in an acidic state. The type 2 version of the disorder produces the same symptoms.


If not properly monitored and treated, children suffer a variety of complications. Cardiovascular and kidney diseases develop. Blood vessel narrowing occurs secondary to elevated cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Kidney damage occurs due to the stress of continually attempting to remove sugar from the blood. Nerve damage begins from a lack of healthy blood circulation. Visual disturbances may lead to permanent blindness.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A healthcare professional must see children exhibiting one or more of the symptoms. For example, diagnosing the youngster involves testing a urine sample and a drop of blood from a finger stick for glucose levels.

Treating the disorders requires:

• Adopting an ADA diet regimen

• Getting sufficient physical activity

• Maintaining a healthy weight

• Routine blood sugar monitoring

• Oral medication or insulin injections as prescribed

• Follow-up appointments with a healthcare provider as recommended