Diabetes Mellitus in Children: Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

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Understanding Diabetes Mellitus in Children

It is hard to note these days that even our kids are not immune to diabetes. A number of factors have contributed to the rise in the occurrence of diabetes mellitus in children, also known as juvenile diabetes. Such children are dependent on outside sources of insulin due to the inability of their pancreas to synthesize insulin, which is necessary to convert glucose and other food into energy. According to the American Diabetes Association, of every 2,000-3,000 kids in the United States, five are affected by diabetes mellitus. The ADA states that prevalence of diabetes mellitus is more common in children from American Indian, African American, Asian or Pacific Islander, and Hispanic ethnicities.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes in Children

In children, the occurrence of type 1 diabetes mellitus is still unclear; however, the most common cause of childhood diabetes is the destruction of pancreatic cells. Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disorder that begins at the age of 6-7 years. It affects the children having some kind of genetic predisposition.

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is due to obesity and insulin resistance. In US children, the prevalence of type 1 diabetes mellitus is more than type 2 diabetes mellitus, though with the increasing incidence of obesity, T2DM is expected to exceed T1DM within the next 10 years. It is a common fact that extra fat in the body interferes with the metabolism function, thus interfering with the ability to regulate blood glucose.


  • Polydipsia or excessive thirst: Children develop a tendency to drink more fluids than usual because of the accumulation of glucose in blood, which dehydrates the body, causing thirst.
  • Polyuria: Diabetic kids urinate more frequently than usual because of the intake of more fluids due to dehydration.
  • Polyphagia or increased appetite: Kids develop a tendency to eat more than usual because of excessive hunger caused by energy insufficiency as a result of lack of insulin.
  • Dramatic weight loss: Kids lose weight unexpectedly in spite of a good appetite because cells fail to store any source of energy and there is no formation of muscle mass or fat.
  • Ketones: High level of ketones are found in urine, which if unchecked can complicate the situation to ketosis.
  • Weakness and irritability: Fatigue and tiredness overpower kids and irritability becomes common due to lack of energy.
  • Fruity breath because of increased number of ketones in the body because the body burns fat for energy instead of sugar due to lack of insulin production.
  • Unconsciousness – This is one of the severest symptoms, which occurs due to lack of sugar in the brain cells.

Prevention & Treatment

Timely recognition of these diabetes symptoms is important for the early diagnosis of the disease, which is necessary for its prevention. Type 1 diabetes mellitus becomes complicated over the due course of time and thus requires timely treatment. Parents must ensure that children are given a healthy diet, rich in fiber. Though there isn’t any such diabetes diet, physician and nutritionist should be consulted to diagnose the body’s diet requirements. Diabetes management in children must take their age and maturity into consideration.

  • Insulin doses must be administered to the patient for prompt lowering of blood glucose levels.
  • Glucose levels must be monitored regularly to prevent any future complications.
  • Children must be encouraged to adopt a healthier lifestyle comprising healthy diet and exercise regimen. They must adopt healthy food habits, eliminate obesity, remain active and stress free. In fact, a combination of healthy food and active life would keep blood glucose levels under control. Walking to their friend’s place or cycling to school is a good idea to burn calories. Indulging in active chores, rather than watching television, would help burn extra fat and keep kids away from obesity and related complications.


  1. Management of type 1 diabetes mellitus in children and adolescents: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/management-of-type-1-diabetes-mellitus-in-children-and-adolescents
  2. Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Childhood: Obesity and Insulin Resistance: https://www.jaoa.org/cgi/content/full/108/9/518
  3. Promote Health Through Diet and Exercise: https://library.med.utah.edu/WebPath/TUTORIAL/OBESITY/OBESITY.html
  4. Diabetes Symptoms in Child : https://chinese-school.netfirms.com/diabetes-juvenile-symptoms.html