Childhood diabetes: learn how to identify and treat the disease • Health Congress 2022

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Until the middle of the 20th century, the main adversaries of children’s health were diseases without vaccination, the lack of basic sanitation and the lack of drinking water in many communities. There are still records of these cases, but, in general, the bad guys have become childhood obesity, physical inactivity and diabetes, conditions that are linked.

Learn about the impact childhood diabetes has on children’s bodies, what causes the disease, how to identify it, and what you can do to diagnose it.

Understanding childhood diabetes

Childhood diabetes is a disease caused by the body's inability to produce insulin.  (Source: Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock/Reproduction)
Childhood diabetes is a disease caused by the body’s inability to produce insulin. (Source: Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock/Reproduction)

Type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM1) occurs between childhood and early adolescence and refers to the inability of the pancreas to metabolize glucose ingested from food. As a result, this carbohydrate circulates in excess in the blood and affects the metabolism. The reason why this happens is the destruction of the pancreatic cells responsible for the production of insulin, which is the hormone that manages to bring glucose into the cells and guarantee the production of energy.

Some studies indicate an increase in cases due to a sedentary lifestyle in childhood, but the disease is not new. The earliest known record comes from ancient Egypt and appears in the Ebers papyrus. The name by which it is known today originated in ancient Greece, in the Christian era, and was given by Arateus.

What Causes Childhood Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes has a genetic origin. The child is born with this condition, which will accompany him throughout his life, because there is no cure. Despite this, DNA is not entirely determinant of quality of life. The relationship between genes, environment, and physical and dietary behavior is an arrangement that makes a difference in the course of disease, so bad health-promoting habits can be considered as much a part of development of childhood diabetes than genetic factors. load. .

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How to detect childhood diabetes

The diagnosis of the disease must be made by the pediatricians who accompany the child, but the parents may be aware of certain warning signs. The most common symptoms are:

  • excessive thirst;
  • dry mouth;
  • frequent and abundant urination, even at night;
  • hunger;
  • fatigue and drowsiness;
  • refusal to play;
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • weightloss;
  • frequent infections;
  • irritability and mood swings;
  • slow thinking;
  • Blurred vision.

If any of these conditions are present, the medical team should order a blood test. If the fasting blood sugar is above 126 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl), the child is considered diabetic.

It is important to be aware, however, that type 2 diabetes can also present early. In this case, insulin resistance caused by factors such as childhood obesity can also derail insulin dynamics and require specialized care. Therefore, the differential diagnosis should be observed.

Want to know more? Find here the opinion and explanations of our health expert partners.

Discover the treatment of childhood diabetes

Current pharmacological methods allow the child to live with type 1 diabetes mellitus. (Source: Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock/Reproduction)
Current pharmacological methods allow the child to live with type 1 diabetes mellitus. (Source: Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock/Reproduction)

Although the disease is incurable, some treatments are able to stabilize the condition and provide a good quality of life for the patient. This is important both for the full development of childhood and not to compromise the organs, which are “irritated” by the blood hyperglycaemia.

Applying regular doses of insulin is the most important treatment because it synthetically replaces the hormone that the pancreas stops producing and allows cells to “feed” again on glucose taken in from food. Some drugs are also useful, although they do not perform the role of insulin, they only provide more precise control of the amount of glucose in the blood.

Another example is diet choice. And this is where the importance of nutrition professionals comes in, who deserve regular visits just as much as pediatricians. While this area helps in all cases of children, nutritionists are absolutely essential in cases of childhood diabetes.

As the body has difficulty metabolizing glucose, ingesting it in large quantities accentuates the pathological picture. Thus, it is better for the child to eat fiber and other long-digesting carbohydrates, since polysaccharides take longer to break down, and nutrient absorption occurs without blood sugar spikes.

Finally, it is worth having the follow-up of physical educators, since adequate control of the exercise load and care with medication and nutrition can be the key to a happy and healthy childhood.

Source: HUPE/UERJ Magazine, Tua Saúde, Scielo, Rede D’Or São Luiz.

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