Partly Cloudy   77.0F  |  Forecast »

Diabetes Care for Kids

How to manage type 1 at home and in school

Is your child one of the nearly 150,000 living with type 1 diabetes? Every year, they're joined by another 13,000 kids, all under the age of 18, who are diagnosed with the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association.

If you're among the ranks, though, you know what's at the heart of a diabetes diagnosis: It's a life-changing condition that requires constant care. Take time to learn how to manage it both at home – and during the school day.

What's happening

There are two sorts of diabetes. Type 2, more common in adults, is often associated with obesity (though it's increased among children as obesity rates rise). Type 1 happens more often in kids and isn't directly related to diet. Both share the same result: the body doesn't process glucose (sugar) properly, so the body's systems can become taxed from operating without enough energy.

Glucose in the blood is the "gas" for your body's engines, tucked deep within cells. Insulin ushers glucose into the cells to provide that energy. If the body stops producing insulin, glucose can't get into the cells and all of the body's major systems – from the nervous system to the circulatory system can suffer as a result. With diabetics, the pancreas stops making insulin.

Injections – and more

To compensate for the body's lack of insulin production, diabetic children often take injections. The entire process of injecting and monitoring food intake can be difficult, especially for parents who are trying to help active children. (A common method to gauge glucose levels is a pinprick test to get a small blood sample.)

Along with food intake, parents must take into consideration exercise, sleep patterns and other lifestyle factors that might dictate how much insulin a child needs. Much of this monitoring happens at home, but when it comes time for school, parents work with school staff to make sure that diabetic children receive the attention they need.

Insulin pumps also are an option. These pumps are computerized devices that can be stashed into a pocket or waistband and then are attached by a small tube into the body for more constant insulin flow.

Ups and downs

In extreme cases, if a diabetic child's blood sugar level drops too low, he or she can go into a coma, which could be fatal. But Cathy Adsit, a nurse in the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, says that managing a diabetic child's care is not just about avoiding serious problems. Instead, school nurses help educate parents, teachers and school staff about how subtle changes in glucose levels can affect a child's academic performance.

"If the blood sugar level is too low, a child may become tired or sluggish," Adsit says. "If a child's levels are too high, he or she can become irritable. For diabetics, each day is different – and you have to always monitor your glucose levels. I can understand how sending a child to school with diabetes can make a parent anxious."

That's one reason she's in constant contact with parents, updating them about their children: "I communicate with parents of diabetic children at least once a day, either with a phone call, or an e-mail or with notes home. It's important for parents to know that there's an open line of communication between them and the school."

Support

Parents draw support for managing their children's condition from a variety of sources, including family members and pediatricians.

Another vital part of caring for their kids is school staff. School nurses not only ease parents' fears about their children staying safe in the classroom; they also help educate teachers and other students about the child's condition for those seven hours or so she's away from home.

For other resources, try the Michigan Diabetes Outreach Network or Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International.

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Michigan Education Improves, Poverty Grows, Kids Count Says

Michigan Education Improves, Poverty Grows, Kids Count Says

The 2014 Annie E. Casey Foundation study finds promising trends for preschool attendance and high-school graduation, but notes struggles with child poverty.

Zucchini Recipes: Ways to Incorporate Veggies Into Your Diet

Zucchini Recipes: Ways to Incorporate Veggies Into Your Diet

Is your garden overflowing with this vegetable? Try making cheesy zucchini bites, zucchini fries or any of these recipes.

Beach Towel and Picnic Blanket Caddy Craft

Beach Towel and Picnic Blanket Caddy Craft

Looking for an easy, compact way to tote those summer necessities? You're in luck! This simple sewing project makes carting your fabric accessories a breeze.

Socialite Returns Adopted Child to Orphanage for Crying

Socialite Returns Adopted Child to Orphanage for Crying

After only one night in, Romanian socialite Monica Gabor took her adopted son back to the orphanage because the child was too distressed.

Medication Mistakes Common and Dangerous, New Study Finds

Medication Mistakes Common and Dangerous, New Study Finds

Recent findings published in Pediatrics show that nearly 40 percent of parents make measuring errors for their kid's medicine. Why is this happening and what can you do to prevent it?

Craft Roundup: Fun Summer Projects for Kids

Craft Roundup: Fun Summer Projects for Kids

Beat vacation boredom with these four cool ideas from blogs, including Popsicle holders, printable sewing cards, jellyfish handprint bookmarks and more.

5 Tips to Get Your Kids Interested in Cooking

5 Tips to Get Your Kids Interested in Cooking

From picking out ingredients to concocting their own culinary creations, here are a few ways to encourage your children to help out in the kitchen.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement