Type 1 diabetes is a serious autoimmune disease in which the pancreas stops producing insulin. This condition is most common among children.
November is Diabetes Awareness Month and while many adults are aware of the risks of developing type 2 diabetes if they make unhealthy lifestyle choices, what about babies and young children that develop unavoidable type 1 diabetes?
Jackie Maimin, CEO of the Independent Community Pharmacy Association (ICPA), explains type 1 diabetes is difficult to spot in infants, because they can’t vocalise to their parents that they don’t feel right.
Look out for these symptoms of paediatric diabetes in babies and toddlers:
- Increased thirst and frequent urination. These are common symptoms of type 1 diabetes in toddlers and other young children. “The reason for this is that rising blood-sugar levels trigger a reaction in the body that pulls liquids from the cells,” explains Jackie. “This will leave diabetic children thirsty, which leads to increased urination. If your toddler is potty-trained you may also notice that they revert back or have bed-wetting issues.”
- Extreme fatigue. “This could be a sign that your child’s body isn’t able to turn the sugar in his bloodstream into energy.”
- Increased hunger and unexplained weight loss. “Extreme hunger can be triggered when a child’s muscles and organs aren’t receiving enough energy,” says Jackie. “And sudden weight loss—especially if he or she is eating more—could also be a major warning sign.”
- Changes in vision. According to Jackie, high blood glucose levels could lead to blurred vision or other eyesight issues. “Unfortunately, at a very young age, your child will most likely not be able to articulate this.”
- Yeast infection. “This type of infection may present as nappy rash, which is caused by excessive yeast.”
- Fruity smelling breath or sugar in urine. “This is a sign that your child’s body is trying to eliminate sugar that it can’t get into its cells.”
- Unusual behaviour. “If your child suddenly becomes unusually irritable, restless or moody, it may be cause for concern, particularly if this coincides with the other symptoms listed here,” warns Jackie.
If you have any reason to believe you’re seeing signs of type 1 diabetes in your toddler, infant or baby, chat to your local community pharmacist for advice and a referral for further testing.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.