Diabetes is catching them young

Diabetes may strike early, so it’s important that parents understand the warning signs and learn to avert them, suggests Dr Atish Laddad

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If you have been wondering about the cause behind the snowballing increase in the cases of diabetes in present times, it is nothing but the inactive lifestyle, absence of exercise and unhealthy eating habits that we follow.

What’s more worrisome is that this lifestyle disease is now affecting young children as well. Diabetes mellitus is predominantly type 1 in children, however, the cases of children falling prey to type 2 diabetes today is also on the rise.

Although the exact cause for juvenile diabetes is not yet known, the ailment in kids is due to a complex combination of genetic factors and environmental triggers. The symptoms associated with childhood diabetes are more or less the same as in adults, like a drop in weight, fatigue and tiredness, recurrent urination and excessive thirst. Some indications specific to children diagnosed with diabetes consist of abdominal aches, headaches, and behavioural problems.

Parents usually get bogged down by the myths associated with diabetes. Here are some facts that try to debunk these myths.  

Myth 1: Feasting on excess sugar can cause diabetes in children

Fact: We commonly believe that the foremost reason for kids to fall prey to this lifestyle ailment is the consumption of edibles high in sugar content. It has been medically proven that the most common form of diabetes in children — Type 1 diabetes is caused due to the damage of cells generating insulin in the pancreas.

Myth 2: Children with diabetes must not exercise

Fact: This is absolutely false. In fact, body movements in the form of exercise is vital for all children, regardless of whether they are diagnosed with diabetes or not. Exercising is most important for diabetic children since it can offer tremendous health benefits. It aids them maintain a healthy weight, improves cardiovascular health, acts as a mood enhancer and regulates blood sugar levels.

Myth 3: Insulin cures diabetes

Fact: This is an absolute myth since insulin is not a cure for diabetes; it just facilitates in managing the condition. Insulin aids in getting glucose out of the blood and into the cells, where it’s utilised for energy, thus keeping levels of blood sugar under control.

Myth 4: Diabetes spreads from one person to other

Fact: No, not at all, diabetes is not transmissible. Patients suffering from diabetes have to inherit genes that make them more prone to get diabetes.

Myth 5: Only overweight kids are prone to diabetes

Fact: Being overweight is just one of the risk factors for contracting diabetes and not the only factor. In fact, childhood diabetes is a result of various aspects like family history, race or ethnicity, and age. In fact, kids who have more fat tissue deposited in the stomach are more likely to have insulin resistance.

Myth 6: Kids can outgrow the condition

Fact: This is not true, children cannot outgrow diabetes. In the case of type 1 diabetes in children, the cells of the pancreas that are responsible to generate insulin are demolished, following which they will never be able to produce insulin again. Hence Type 1 diabetics are forever required to take insulin.

However, kids diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes may witness a gradual improvement in their levels of sugar with a couple of lifestyle alterations.

Myth 7: Diabetes can be averted in children

Fact: Defensive and precautionary measures will totally depend on the type of diabetes the child is diagnosed with. Type 1, is an autoimmune condition, which has no scope of prevention. Dietary choices and activities they are involved in can play a role in monitoring their blood sugar.

Myth 8: Children with diabetes must not eat desserts

Fact: Since diabetes chiefly upsets the levels of blood glucose, there is a myth that your child must totally avoid sugary edibles and diets containing sugar.
However, if you ensure that your child has been following a healthy diet, gets plenty of physical activity and remains stress-free, they can relish desserts in a moderate quantity.

Myth 9: Diabetics can feel when their levels of blood sugar go high or low

Fact: No. Kids and youngsters may perceive some changes happening to their body if blood sugar levels go very high or low. Get a medical test done.

Myth 10: A diabetic child is not capable of pursuing a normal life

Fact: With proper surveillance, a well planned diet, exercise and medications, it is possible for a diabetic child to lead a completely normal life.

(The author is director, Docterz)

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