“Diabetes” a term which is basically used to refer high sugar levels in blood. With type 1 diabetes the pancreas does not make enough insulin because the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone which is needed to help glucose enter the cells of the body and in turn provides energy. Without insulin the glucose stays in the blood and leads to serious problems and can also damage various parts of the body like kidneys, eyes, heart, teeth and gums.

Type 1 diabetes is more commonly seen in children and young adults but it can appear at an age. The risk factors for type 1 diabetes in children are-

  • Family history. Children with a parent or a sibling with type 1 diabetes has a slight increased risk of developing diabetes.
  • Genetic susceptibility. Presence of certain genes in children also indicates an increased risk of developing diabetes.

Environmental risk factors include:

  • Certain viruses.Exposure to various viruses may trigger the autoimmune destruction of the islet cells.
  • Diet. Eating junk food frequently not having a diet that is high in protein also triggers this condition. Early intake of animal milk and solid food has been linked to an increased risk of type 1 diabetes, while breast-feeding lowers the risk. The timing of the introduction of cereal into a baby’s diet also may affect a child’s risk of type 1 diabetes.

# SYMPTOMS- The signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children include:

  • Increased thirst and frequent urination.Excess sugar building in child’s bloodstream pulls fluid from tissues which makes a child thirsty or he/she drink and urinate more than usual. Also a young child might suddenly experience bed-wetting.
  • Extreme hunger.As there is less insulin to move sugar into cells, the child lacks energy which in turn triggers hunger.
  • Weight loss. Despite eating more than usual the child may lose weight. Unexplained weight loss is the first sign of type 1 diabetes to be noticed in children.
  • Lack of sugar might make him or her tired and lethargic.
  • Irritability or behavior changes. The child might experience mood swings and her performance at school also might be affected.
  • Fruity-smelling breath.As the body burns fat instead of sugar your child may experience fruity breath odor.
  • Blurred vision.If the sugar level is too high fluid may be pulled from the lenses of the eyes and the child is unable to focus clearly.

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Treatment for type 1 diabetes in kids is lifelong and includes regular blood sugar monitoring, healthy eating and regular exercise. Parents also need to play an important role by helping kids lead happier, healthier lives, by giving constant encouragement and making sure their children eat a balanced diet and also stay active by engaging in physical activity.

A well balanced diet should include-

* Fruits- Choose whole fruits more often than juices. Fruits have more fiber. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines, are best. Drink fruit juices that do NOT have added sweeteners or syrups

* Vegetables- Choose fresh veggies without added sauces, fats, or salt. Opt for more dark green and deep yellow vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, romaine, carrots, and peppers.

* Fiber- Choose whole-grain foods such as whole-grain bread or crackers, tortillas, bran cereal, brown rice, or beans. Use whole-wheat or other whole-grain flours in cooking and baking. Choose low-fat breads, such as bagels, tortillas, English muffins, and pita bread.

* Meat and fish- Eat fish and poultry more often. Remove the skin from chicken and turkey. Select lean cuts of beef, veal, pork, or wild game. Trim all visible fat from meat. Bake, roast, broil, grill, or boil instead of frying.

* Fats and sweets- Limit your intake of fatty foods, especially those high in saturated fat, such as hamburger, cheese, bacon, and butter. Sweets are high in fat and sugar, so keep portion sizes small. Other tips to avoid eating too many sweets:

  • Ask for extra spoons and forks and split your dessert with others.
  • Eat sweets that are sugar-free.
  • Always ask for the small serving size.
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