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Diabetes in Childhood – Understand Causes of Diabetes and Save Your Child

It is observed that some people have a strong craving for sweets, and they cannot resist indulging in them. They also experience a frequent urge to visit the restroom. If you, your child or someone you know is grappling with such symptoms, be cautious as it could be indicative of diabetes. If diabetes is the concern, and you want to address it, the first step is to understand its foundation so that it can be effectively managed. 

What is Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition characterized by high blood sugar levels. In normal circumstances, a hormone called insulin keeps blood sugar under control. In diabetes, insulin production may decrease or the body may not be able to use insulin effectively, which results in low blood sugar levels. It is of two types :

Types of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes: This means the immune system mistakenly destroys insulin-producing cells. This results in the body not being able to produce insulin.

Type 2 Diabetes: This means the body cannot use insulin effectively, or insulin production is reduced. Type 2 Diabetes usually develops in adulthood, but nowadays it is also seen in children.

Common symptoms of diabetes

  1. Frequent Urination
  2. Increased thirst
  3. Unexplained weight loss
  4. Fatigue
  5. Blurred vision
  6. Slow healing of wounds
  7. Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet

Diabetes complications

  1. Heart disease: High blood sugar levels can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  2. Kidney damage: Diabetes can lead to kidney damage or failure over time.
  3. Eye problems: Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in the eyes, leading to vision problems.
  4. Nerve damage: Diabetes can affect the nerves, causing pain or numbness, especially in the feet and hands.
  5. Foot problems: Poor blood circulation and nerve damage can lead to foot problems, sometimes requiring amputation.

So far, we have seen what diabetes is, how many types of diabetes there are, what the symptoms of diabetes are, and what problems can arise from it.

Earlier, it was believed that consuming excessive sugar was a potential cause of diabetes, primarily observed in adults. However, there has been a recent and unexpected rise in the incidence of type-2 diabetes among children. Historically, it was established that children were more prone to developing type-1 diabetes, while type-2 diabetes was predominantly associated with adults.

Scientifically, type-1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition characterized by the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. This autoimmune response is not directly linked to sugar consumption but rather involves a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors.

On the other hand, type-2 diabetes is often associated with factors such as obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and genetic predisposition. The sudden emergence of type-2 diabetes in children suggests a potential shift in the underlying risk factors or a changing interplay between genetic and environmental elements.

It is important to note that while diabetes itself may not be immediately fatal, its complications, including cardiovascular issues, kidney problems, and nerve damage, can have serious consequences. This underscores the importance of understanding the evolving patterns of diabetes and developing effective strategies for prevention and management, especially in pediatric populations.

Reasons for the increase in type-2 diabetes cases in children:

The increase in type-2 diabetes cases in children is a complex and multifaceted issue that can be attributed to a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

Here are some key reasons for the rise in type-2 diabetes cases in children:

Physical Factors

  1. Obesity: One of the most significant risk factors for type-2 diabetes in children is obesity. The prevalence of childhood obesity has been steadily increasing due to changes in dietary habits, increased consumption of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, and a sedentary lifestyle.
  2. Unhealthy Diet: The consumption of a diet high in processed foods, sugary beverages, and fast food contributes to weight gain and insulin resistance, increasing the risk of type-2 diabetes.
  3. Lack of Physical Activity: Sedentary lifestyles, characterized by a lack of physical activity, are common in today’s children. Physical inactivity can contribute to obesity and insulin resistance, increasing the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
  4. Changes in Dietary Patterns: Modern dietary patterns, with an increased intake of sugary and processed foods, can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels, potentially contributing to the development of insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes.
  5. Insulin Resistance: Insulin resistance, a condition where the body’s cells do not respond effectively to insulin, is a key factor in the development of type-2 diabetes. Obesity and genetic factors can contribute to insulin resistance.

     Genetic Factors

  6. Genetic Predisposition: While lifestyle factors play a significant role, there is also a genetic component to type-2 diabetes. Children with a family history of the condition may be at a higher risk.
  7. Ethnic and Socioeconomic Factors: Certain ethnic groups, such as African American, Hispanic, and Native American children, have a higher predisposition to type-2 diabetes. Additionally, children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds may face challenges in accessing healthy food options and opportunities for physical activity.
  8. Early Puberty: There is evidence to suggest that early puberty may be associated with an increased risk of type-2 diabetes in children. Factors contributing to early puberty, such as obesity, may play a role in this association.
  9.  Gestational Diabetes Exposure: Children born to mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy may be at an increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes later in life.

Early Prevention Tips for childrens to not affect with diabetes

Preventing diabetes in children involves adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight. While some risk factors for diabetes are genetic and cannot be changed, lifestyle choices can significantly impact a child’s overall health.

Here are some early prevention tips for children to reduce the risk of developing diabetes:

1. Encourage a Healthy Diet

  • Emphasize a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  • Limit the intake of sugary snacks, beverages, and processed foods.
  • Control portion sizes to prevent overeating.

2. Promote Regular Physical Activity

  • Encourage at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.
  • Include a mix of aerobic exercises (e.g., walking, biking) and muscle-strengthening activities.
  • Limit screen time and encourage outdoor play.

3. Maintain a Healthy Weight

  • Help children achieve and maintain a healthy weight for their age and height.
  • If necessary, consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for guidance on weight management.

4. Limit Sedentary Behavior

  • Reduce the time spent in front of screens, such as TVs, computers, and video games.
  • Encourage breaks and physical activities during screen time.

5. Promote Good Sleep Hygiene

  • Ensure children get enough sleep each night (the recommended amount varies by age).
  • Establish a consistent sleep routine and limit electronic device use before bedtime.

6. Encourage Hydration

  •  Promote water as the primary beverage of choice.
  • Limit sugary drinks, such as sodas and fruit juices.

7. Regular Health Check-ups

  •  Schedule regular check-ups with a pediatrician to monitor overall health and screen for potential risk factors.
  • Discuss family medical history to understand potential genetic risks.

8. Educate About Healthy Choices

  • Teach children about the importance of making healthy food choices and staying active.
  • Foster a positive attitude toward a healthy lifestyle.

9. Model Healthy Behavior

  • Be a positive role model by adopting healthy eating and exercise habits yourself.
  • Involve the whole family in making healthy lifestyle choices.

10. Be Aware of Warning Signs

  • Stay informed about the signs and symptoms of diabetes.
  • If there is a family history of diabetes or if you notice any concerning symptoms, consult a healthcare professional promptly.
  • Remember that early prevention involves creating a supportive environment for children to make healthy choices. It’s important to approach these changes as a family and provide positive reinforcement for healthy behaviors. If you have concerns about your child’s health, it’s always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

For more information and early detection of diabetes, you can visit our page and schedule a call with us. Early detection of diabetes in your child can give you peace of mind and overcome your tension.

Stay tuned for our upcoming blogs where we will examine diabetes in more detail.

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