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Type 1 Diabetes in Children: All You Need to Know

Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, MD · Nephrology · Makati Medical Center

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Dec 16, 2021

Type 1 Diabetes in Children: All You Need to Know

How Is Type 1 Diabetes in Children Different?

Type 1 diabetes in children is a serious health condition. When a child is said to have type 1 diabetes, it means that their body no longer produces insulin.

Insulin is important because it regulates blood sugar levels. And it also allows the body to process sugar into energy. Without insulin, blood sugar levels would continue to rise, and this can lead to serious health problems.

Type 1 diabetes can happen at any age, but type 1 diabetes in children can difficult to handle, especially for a very young child.

How is it different from diabetes in adults?

type 1 diabetes in children

Children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes can suddenly find themselves overwhelmed with all of the things they need to learn and do. This includes monitoring their blood sugar levels, knowing how and when to inject insulin, and a sudden change in their diet.

Some of the foods or even daily activities that they used to enjoy might suddenly be restricted because of their condition. And this can be a very difficult thing for a child to deal with.

Type 1 diabetes that starts at a younger age also puts a child at risk of complications as they grow older.

Cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure and narrowing of the blood vessels might happen earlier if a child gets diagnosed with diabetes at a young age.

This is why it is important for parents to help their child manage their condition well.

With the right support and guidance, children with type 1 diabetes can grow up without any problems, and with a good quality of life.


When it comes to the symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children, these usually appear very fast. So parents would be able to tell that there might be a problem with their child.

Here are some of the possible symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children:

  • Your child seems to always be thirsty.
  • They experience sudden unexplained weight loss.
  • They feel tired all the time.
  • Your child might urinate more frequently than usual.
  • Sudden bedwetting can also be a sign.
  • Their breath smells sweet or fruity.
  • Your child becomes irritable or easily annoyed.
  • They feel very hungry, even if they’re full or if they’ve already eaten.
  • In young women, a yeast infection can be a sign of type 1 diabetes.

These are the most common signs that your child might have type 1 diabetes. If you notice any combination of these symptoms, it would be a good idea to get in touch with your child’s pediatrician to get them checked as soon as possible.

The sooner that diabetes can be treated, the better the outcome would be for your child.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is still a mystery to this day. It is also unknown why type 1 diabetes can affect children, teenagers, or even adults.

In general, type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed before a person reaches 40 years old.

But in children, the most common range is between 4-14 years old.

However, we do know that it is an autoimmune response which causes the pancreas to stop producing insulin.

Once insulin production stops, sugar can start to build up in the blood, which can cause type 1 diabetes.

Here are some of the risk factors for type 1 diabetes in children

  • If you or any close relatives have type 1 diabetes.
  • Some genes also play a role in whether or not a child would be more prone to type 1 diabetes.
  • Certain viruses such as Coxsackievirus B, rotavirus, cytomegalovirus, and even mumps could trigger an autoimmune response. This in turn could cause type 1 diabetes.

Eating sugary foods, or carbohydrates has no effect on whether or not a child would develop type 1 diabetes.

Rise in Type-1 Diabetes During Pandemic, Study Finds

Treatment and Prevention

At the moment, there is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes. This is why it is a good idea to be aware of your family history, just in case your child develops type 1 diabetes.

It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on any possible symptoms, and talk to their pediatrician immediately if you notice anything wrong.

How is it treated?

Before treatment, initial management of type 1 diabetes in children includes meeting with the diabetes care team. The team is usually made up of an endocrinologist, nurse educator, dietician, and a family counselor.

During these meetings, they are taught how to give insulin injections, how to engage their children in the care, how to get CBGs, proper exercise and diet, and providing psychosocial support.

The treatment of type 1 diabetes in children is similar to the treatment procedures for adults.

This means that your child’s blood sugar levels need to be constantly monitored throughout the day to ensure that it is at a safe level.

In addition, insulin injections are also necessary to keep their blood sugar levels normal.

Aside from these, your child also needs to take any medication that the doctor prescribes, as well as eat a healthy diet.

One important thing for parents to do would be to teach their child how to do these things on their own. As your child grows older and more independent, you won’t always be there to do these things for them.

So while they are young, it would be a good idea to teach them how to check their blood sugar levels, and inject their insulin.

This helps them develop good habits that can help them ensure that they can control their condition even when you are not around

Parenting a Child With Type 1 Diabetes: What You Need to Know

Key Takeaways

Nowadays, type 1 diabetes in children is no longer as scary as it used to be. With proper management and control, children can grow up to live active, healthy, and happy lives, even if they have diabetes.

The most important thing would be to teach your child how to take care of themselves, and to make sure that they’re keeping their blood sugar levels well under control.

Learn more about Type 1 Diabetes here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mia Dacumos, MD

Nephrology · Makati Medical Center

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Dec 16, 2021

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