What is type 1 diabetes in children?

Type 1 diabetes in children, or juvenile diabetes, is a disease that requires lifelong management. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the autoimmune system attacks and destroys cells in the pancreas called beta cells, which produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps sugar, or glucose, enter cells to give them energy.

When there is no insulin, too much sugar stays in the bloodstream. This can lead to a life-threatening condition.

How common is type 1 diabetes in children?

In the United States, 13,000 children are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes every year.

What are the causes of type 1 diabetes in children?

Glucose comes from food and is the major source of energy for your body. After eating, your body breaks down food into glucose, which is absorbed into the bloodstream. The glucose level rises, triggering the pancreas to produce insulin and release it into the bloodstream. Type 1 diabetes is a result of the pancreas not producing any insulin. This is due to an autoimmune reaction where the body destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. The causes of type 1 diabetes are still being researched. Possible causes include:

  • Genes (inherited from family)
  • Virus or trigger in the environment

What are the symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children?

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes can appear in a few weeks or months after enough of the pancreas’s beta cells are destroyed. Symptoms can be severe once they appear.

They include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Abnormally thirsty
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Frequent exhaustion
  • Bedwetting
  • Vaginal yeast infection
  • Sores that heal slowly
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Losing feeling in feet or having tingling in feet
  • Blurry eyesight

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