Diabetes mellitus in children: causes and symptoms of the disease

Diabetes mellitus is a disease that is more common in adults, but children can also get diabetes. In rare cases, diabetes in children is diagnosed even in infancy, although the most sensitive age period for this disease is 6-12 years.

The disease in children proceeds in the same way as in adult patients, with some difference depending on the age of the child. What contributes to the development of diabetes in children, what signs indicate the onset of the disease and how parents can alleviate the condition of the baby .

Causes of diabetes in children

The most common form of diabetes in children is type II diabetes mellitus. The etiology of the disease is a decrease in sensitivity to insulin.

  • Heredity

This type of diabetes is inherited with a probability of 80% if one of the parents suffers from this disease. If non-insulin-dependent diabetes is diagnosed in both parents, the probability of inheriting the disease is almost 100%. The disease can manifest itself both in early childhood and in adolescence or adulthood.  

During pregnancy, the expectant mother with diagnosed diabetes or at risk should carefully and regularly check her blood sugar. Sugar, penetrating the placental barrier and accumulating in the tissues of the fetus, provokes the development of diabetes in the child.

  • Overeating, the predominance of fast carbohydrates in the menu

The maximum risk for the development of carbohydrate metabolism reaches 5 years. At this age, children are already actively eating almost all “adult” food, although the pancreas begins to function fully by an average of 6 years. Thus, an inadequate diet with a predominance of fast carbohydrates, sweets, pastries loads the pancreas, which does not yet produce the required amount of insulin.

And at an older age, such malnutrition leads to obesity and depletion of the cells responsible for insulin production. But the critical period from 5 to 6 years is most often the starting point in the disease of diabetes.

  • Viral diseases

Influenza of any type, mumps (mumps), rubella, viral hepatitis – these viral infections adversely affect the pancreas. If a child has a hereditary predisposition to diabetes, viral diseases can contribute to its manifestation.  

Risk factors also include physical inactivity, leading to obesity, and frequent acute respiratory viral diseases. However, the main factors in the etiology of diabetes in children are considered to be a hereditary tendency and severe malnutrition in the child.  

Symptoms of diabetes in a child

Diabetes in children develops gradually, so it is important to know its symptoms and pay attention to changes in the behavior and well-being of the child. The following symptoms accompany diabetes mellitus:

  • children experience constant strong thirst, complain of a feeling of dry mouth;
  • body weight decreases with constant appetite and without an increase in physical activity or other factors contributing to weight loss;
  • children get tired quickly, become irritable, school performance drops. This occurs with a constant daily load and a full night’s sleep, without stressful situations;
  • a sharp decrease in visual acuity;
  • the child goes to the toilet much more often than usual, the amount of urine excreted is up to 2 liters. There is no correlation between the amount of fluid drunk and the frequency of urination.

Even one of the following typical symptoms of diabetes should alert parents. Even the only sign is an occasion to visit a specialist.

In addition to the typical symptoms in children, there are also atypical, specific signs. These include:

  • secondary nocturnal enuresis;
  • sensations of itching of the skin;
  • genital irritation after contact with urine (associated with an increased amount of sugar in the urine);
  • pustular rashes.

Prevention of type II diabetes in children

First you need to determine if the child is at risk. If he has a predisposition to diabetes, it is necessary to regularly check blood sugar levels and take up the prevention of the disease. Prevention is based on the principles of good nutrition and active movement.

It must be said that a healthy lifestyle, which is the basis for preventing the development of type 2 diabetes, does not harm either children or adults, regardless of the risk group, but for babies with an increased chance of developing the disease, it is especially important. It is good if all family members begin to adhere to these principles.

Measures to prevent diabetes include:

  • restriction of carbohydrate foods, especially fast carbohydrates, foods with a high glycemic index;
  • restriction of sugar, products rich in sucrose, glucose: sweets, fruit juices, pastries, grapes, some dried fruits;
  • restriction of fried, spicy dishes, excess spices;
  • preparation of a balanced menu, with the obligatory presence of dairy products, cereals, meat, vegetables, especially cabbage, potato, barley groats, rice, buckwheat, whole grain bread, oats, rich in complex carbohydrates;
  • regular meals at the same time, in small portions, 5-6 times a day, depending on the age of the child, lack of snacks between meals. This regulates the functioning of the pancreas, helps to form a connection between insulin production and food intake. And small portions contribute to the normal, not excessive production of enzymes;
  • the exception of overeating, high-calorie dishes, food in fast-food establishments, the use of finished foods from cooking;
  • attention to the work of the gastrointestinal tract, normalization of digestion processes, inclusion of fiber-rich foods in the diet;
  • vitamin and mineral supplements, if recommended by a pediatrician, are also part of the diabetes prevention program;
  • active lifestyle, walking, playing sports. Type 2 diabetes has another name – “diabetes complete”. Maintaining a body mass index within normal limits helps to avoid its onset, especially in childhood.

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