Today the diabetes in children (mostly type 1 diabetes) through out the world is growing with an alarming rate. The cases of childhood diabetes has increased 3 times in last 30 years. In England, 17 children, Finland 43 children, Japan 3 children in 100,000 develop diabetes. In USA, 125,000 kids of age 19 and under are suffering from Type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is life-threatening that could cause blindness, heart disease, kidney failure and amputation.
Compare the above figures to the childhood diabetes cases in India. According to Dr Vipul Patel of India, ''Type 1 diabetes is growing by 5% per year among pre-school children in India. It is estimated that 70,000 children, who are under 15 years, develop Juvenile diabetes each year (almost 200 children a day!)."
No one knows for certain why this happens, the following are possible causes for Type 1 diabetes.
- Some viruses like mumps, coxsackie virus, or cytomegalovirus.
- It has also been observed in some babies who develop jaundice or a respiratory infection just after the birth.
- Early feeding of cow's milk to the child has been linked to an increased risk of type 1 diabetes.
Diabetes Symptoms in Children, Infants and Toddlers
There are a number of symptoms if a child might have type 1 diabetes. Typical symptoms in children with type 1 diabetes are tummy pains, headaches and behaviour problems alongwith the usual symptoms of diabetes like weight loss, thirst, tiredness and frequent urination.
- Frequent urination in large amounts. The higher the sugar level in the blood of the child, the more often the child urinates leading to dehydration.
- Increase in thirst
- Dry mouth or throat
- Increase in appetite
- Stomach pain
- Nausea, vomiting or drowsiness
- Rapid breathing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Behaviour problems
- In toddleers and infants: Fungal or yeast diaper rashes not improving with medicated cream.
- Yeast infections or vaginal itching in older girls
It is difficult to notice the early symptoms in infants and toddlers as they will not tell you about thirst and other symptoms.
How to manage childhood diabetes
Majority of children with diabetes are treated with insulin. The parents should keep the patience and do the following.
Australian researchers (published in the journal Diabetes, June 2011) have developed a nasal spray vaccine that allows the immune system to restore immune tolerance to insulin, which could stop children from developing childhood diabetes. However, the spray is not intended as a treatment for people who already have diabetes.
- Children with diabetes need regular physical activity, at least 1 hour daily. Reduce their time on TV, movies and video games and increase their physical activities like walking, swimming, playing games. They should be allowed to watch a few favorite TV programs only. Physical activity helps to lower blood glucose levels, especially in people with type 2 diabetes symptoms.
- A balanced diet at regular intervals is the cure for childhood diabetes. Stop giving them junk foods and start them giving them a healthy diet with high carbohydrates and high protein foods, according to Dr Archana Arya, Child Diabetes expert.
A child should have fat intake of 20 per cent and carbohydrates intake of 55 to 70 per cent of total energy. Discuss with the doctors and dietician about your child's right amount of calories for his age, and ideas for healthy food choices especially carbohydrates such as breads, pasta, and rice as these can affect blood glucose levels.
Bean sprouts, dalia, chappati mixed with soya flour, oats and oatmeal, roti or chapati with palak or methi, makki roti are good for the children.
- Always give them food from home (tiffin) when they go to school, otherwise they will eat junk food there.
- Include more fenugreek (methi), chana dal - methi vegetable, spinach (palak), mung dal, and fiber rich dalia in their diet.
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