Alphabetic Guide to Child Care - Diabetes


No one knows why some children develop diabetes. Diabetes is a noncontagious disease that results from the body's inability to produce enough insulin for the normal metabolism of sugar. The diabetic child is thus improperly nourished because the sugar that should be incorporated into the tissues is excreted in the urine. Finding sugar in the urine facilitates early diagnosis. Also, because this disorder causes a disturbance in the metabolism of fat, there is an increase of fat in the blood, detectable in a routine blood count. Juvenile onset diabetes can be more volatile that adult onset diabetes. Control is usually through injectable insulin.

Insulin treatment has undergone some improvements in the past few years. Human insulin is now readily available; beef-pork insulin was common in usage before. There is less likely to be an allergic reaction to human insulin produced through genetic reproduction. Also, doses can be adjusted to the individual through the mix of fast-acting and slow-acting preparations.

Early Signs

Parents who are themselves diabetic will be alert to any symptoms in their offspring. The disease occurs more frequently in children where there is a family history of diabetes. However, because the disorder may occur in children where there is no previous family history of diabetes, alertness to the following signs is advisable: an abnormally frequent need to urinate; an excessive desire for fluids; itching of the genitals; general listlessness; frequent boils and carbuncles; slow healing of cuts and bruises.

If a diagnosis of diabetes is made by the physician, the child may be hospitalized for a few days for a series of definitive tests, and all the members of the family will be educated in the best way to supervise the child's diet and daily routine so that serious complications can be avoided. Professional guidance is also available to ensure that the youngster's emotional adjustment is a healthy one. For a full discussion see Ch. 15, Diabetes Mellitus .

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