Pediatric HealthSource: Type 1 Diabetes

Manmohan Kamboj, M.D.

Q: My daughter has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and I am nervous about what this diagnosis may mean this holiday season. What can I do to make sure my daughter enjoys holiday meals while keeping her insulin levels managed?

A: The approach of the holidays can be a stressful time for families and parents of children with type 1 diabetes. These children require very close monitoring of their blood glucose levels and need insulin injections for carbohydrate intake and to manage their blood sugars.

As families gather around a table spread with favorite holiday foods, a little advance preparation can help ensure an enjoyable meal with less worry. A few things may help:

  • Look up carbohydrate counts ahead of time or use apps to find carbohydrate content for foods on the table.
  • Eat carbohydrates at one time and cover their intake with insulin.
  • Non-carbohydrate foods can be grazed on during the day.
  • Always have diabetes supplies, including a testing meter and insulin, with you.
  • Check blood sugars at least every three to four hours, and take insulin for high blood sugars no more frequently than every three to four hours. Check more often as needed.
  • If, after all this, your child runs a little higher that one day, take it in stride.
  • Your child's endocrinologist can offer tools to help you calculate insulin dosages, such as The Diabetes Calculator for Kids from Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Always consult your child's pediatrician concerning your child's health.

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Manmohan Kamboj, M.D., is section chief of endocrinology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Diabetes Myths

If your child is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the best thing to do is educate yourself and others. You may have heard many myths about diabetes. Parents should know:

  • Myth: Diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar. For children with type 1 diabetes, the cause is unrelated to sugar consumption. Children can consume sweets in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
  • Myth: If you have diabetes, you cannot exercise. Staying active helps children with diabetes manage weight, improve cardiovascular health, boost mood and relieve stress. However, always consult your child's doctor before exercising.
  • Myth: Children outgrow diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong illness that requires consistent treatment to manage insulin levels. Children with this condition will always need to take insulin because their insulin-producing cells are destroyed.

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