Managing childhood diabetes

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent
Manmohan K. Kamboj, MD

Q: My son has recently been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes mellitus. Does this mean that he can't have any sweets now? Will he outgrow it? How do I know how much insulin to give him?

A: Managing and monitoring diabetes are in your child's best interest. It is very important to always consult your pediatrician and pediatric endocrinologist about your child's health. Secondly, educate yourself and anyone involved in your child's care in order to debunk any myths you hear about managing diabetes. Here are some examples of common myths.

Myth: Diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar.

Fact: Type 1 diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin in the body due to the destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This is unrelated to sugar consumption. Type 2 diabetes results from the body's inability to respond normally to insulin. Excessive sugar and carbohydrate consumption can cause weight gain, which could result in obesity and therefore an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. Children with diabetes can eat sweets in moderation as part of a balanced diet, but it is important to track sugar and carbs and adjust insulin accordingly.

Myth: Kids can outgrow diabetes.

Fact: Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong illness that requires lifelong treatment. Children with Type 1 diabetes will always need to take insulin as treatment. Because insulin-producing cells in Type 1 diabetes are destroyed, they'll never make insulin again. However, children with Type 2 diabetes may see an improvement in their blood sugar levels with lifestyle adjustments or after puberty as a result of weight loss.

Myth: Kids with diabetes cannot exercise.

Fact: Daily activity helps kids manage their weight, improve cardiovascular health, boost their mood, relieve stress and control their blood sugar. This will all be helpful in managing your child's diabetes.

-Manmohan K. Kamboj, MD, Interim Chief of Endocrinology at Nationwide Children's Hospital