Pediatric Diabetes

What Is Pediatric Diabetes?

Pediatric diabetes, a condition affecting children and adolescents, is a complex metabolic disorder characterized by the body’s inability to properly utilize sugar, or glucose. Vital to this process is the hormone insulin, which facilitates the uptake of glucose into cells. The development of diabetes is rooted in the insufficient production of insulin or the body’s inability to effectively use the insulin it produces.

What Are The Causes Of Pediatric Diabetes?

Diabetes in the pediatric population can either be type 1 or type 2.

In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels. It may or may not run in families. It is mostly autoimmune. The body forms autoantibodies against the pancreas which causes the destruction of the pancreatic cells decreasing the levels of insulin.

In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is still making insulin but is not able to make enough. The body is unable to respond to the amount of insulin produced, called insulin resistance. It is usually associated with obesity and may run in families.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Juvenile Diabetes?

Signs of diabetes include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination, waking up in the middle of the night to urinate
  • Feeling tired
  • Losing weight
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA): Nausea/vomiting, belly pain, Fast shallow breaths, breath with fruity odor, disorientation

What Is Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)?

DKA is more common in type 1 diabetes but may also occur in type 2 diabetes. Due to the absence of insulin, the body is not able to use sugar as a source of energy and turns to alternate sources like fats. The fat gets converted to ketones and acid, which can be toxic.


What Are The Risk Factors Of DKA?

  • If the patient is unaware of the diagnosis of diabetes and is not getting treated
  • If the patient does not take insulin as directed
  • If there is an underlying illness which increases the insulin requirement
  • If there is an insulin pump failure which is not recognized on time

What Are The Risk Factors Of Diabetes Mellitus?

Common pediatric diabetes risk factors include:

  • Mother had gestational diabetes
  • Weight (overweight)
  • Age
  • Family history

How Is Juvenile Diabetes Diagnosed?

  1. Typical symptoms: glucosuria, ketonuria AND random plasma glucose > 200 mg/dL
  2. Asymptomatic with the following on 2 separate occasions:
    1. Fasting plasma glucose > 126 mg/dL
    2. 2-hour glucose value > 200 mg/dL on OGTT
    3. HbA1c >6.5%

What Are The Possible Treatments For Pediatric Diabetes?

In Type 1 diabetes, treatment primarily involves insulin therapy tailored to the child’s specific needs.

In Type 2 diabetes, management strategies may encompass oral medications or insulin therapy, depending on the severity of symptoms.

Are There Preventative Steps Or Measures To Avoid Pediatric Diabetes​?

Currently, there is no way to prevent Type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by eating a healthy balanced diet and exercising regularly, with the aim to keep the weight in the normal range for height and age.

What Are The Risks If Juvenile Diabetes Is Left Untreated?

Risks include:

  • Ketoacidosis
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Nerve damage
  • Vision impairment
  • Skin/foot problems

Are There Other Related Conditions To Juvenile Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes can be associated with other autoimmune conditions like autoimmune hypothyroidism and celiac disease. Your doctor will check your child for these conditions after the initial diagnosis and annually thereafter.

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can be associated with hypertension, hyperlipidemia, nephropathy, and retinopathy. Your doctor will monitor your child for these conditions at appropriate intervals.

Key Takeaways

In summary, pediatric diabetes is a multifaceted condition requiring careful management and a holistic approach to care. Understanding the distinct types, recognizing symptoms, and adopting preventive measures can significantly improve the health and well-being of children and adolescents affected by diabetes. Regular monitoring and timely intervention are key to mitigating risks and ensuring a healthier future.

Meet Endocrinology Consultants

Meet Dr. Maha Gopal, a dedicated Pediatric Endocrinologist practicing at Endocrinology Consultants, PC, in Englewood, NJ. Dr. Gopal completed her Pediatric Endocrinology Fellowship at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, and she holds certification in Pediatric Obesity Medicine. With a passion for pediatric care,... Learn More »

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