Type 1 Diabetes in Children: Its Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Table of Contents

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which the pancreas of the body which is responsible for producing insulin are unable to do so. It is insulin that is responsible for the essential breakdown of carbohydrates and fats which, in turn, help in maintaining the required level of sugar and glucose in the blood. The reason behind the same is that the immune system of the body becomes so weak that the beta cells which are responsible for the production of this important hormone are destroyed.

Type 1 diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes as it most affects children. In fact, the common age of occurrence of this type is below the age of 20.

Type 1 Diabetes

When Do You Know That Your Child Has Type 1 Diabetes? Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms:

Diabetes and Children

As mentioned above, type 1 diabetes is a condition that a child will not contract all of a sudden. The condition is said to develop only gradually. However, the same is not true for the symptoms. These signs of diabetes in children are noticed only suddenly.

Symptoms and Signs of Juvenile Diabetes

Following are the symptoms of juvenile diabetes (Type 1):

  • Feeling extremely thirsty.
  • Your child is urinating at frequent intervals. There is an increased frequency, particularly at night.
  • Feeling extremely weak and tired.
  • The child has abdominal pains all of a sudden.
  • Feeling of vomiting or nausea at all times.
  • In girl child, the menstrual cycle is hindered.
  • The child is experiencing blurred vision.
  • Mood changes of the child have become very frequent and sudden
  • Your child remains irritated most of the times
  • There are wounds which take a far longer time to heal than before.
  • Sudden weight loss in spite of the fact that there have been no changes in the regular diet.
  • Blood pressure is decreasing.
  • Low body temperature
  • Heart rate has become very rapid.

When your child is experiencing any of the above symptoms or signs, you immediately need to get him or her checked for developing type 1 diabetes.

There are, however, reasons as to why the signs and symptoms show up in the child so suddenly while the disease develops only gradually. Let us understand the same.

Why is the Showing up of Symptoms and Signs So Sudden?

While in type 1 diabetes, the body is not able to make insulin at all, there is still some insulin left in the body. Because of this, the blood glucose levels are kept under the normal range. As time passes by, less and less amount of insulin is thus produced and finally, there is no insulin in the body at all. It is at this stage, that the blood glucose levels begin to rise and it is only now that the signs and symptoms of diabetes start showing themselves up.

What are the Causes of Type 1 Diabetes?

Although the cause of type 1 diabetes is not known perfectly, there could be several reasons why the disease is contracted by anyone. In this particular section, we will explore the causes that give rise to type 1 diabetes.

1. Genetic Reasons

Some of the research conducted by scientists show that one of the major reasons which lead to the development of type 1 diabetes is the genes that you inherit. According to the research, a few people will not develop this condition at all as they do not have the genes to do so. Also, the research points out to the fact that the HLA complex is what determines the onset of a condition like diabetes and hence it is the genes which play a major role.

In fact, a study conducted by the elite organization, American Diabetes Association, have made the following inferences from a study conducted by its reputed and knowledgeable experts:

  • If you are a man suffering from type 1 diabetes, the chances that your offspring will develop the same is 1 in every 17.
  • If you are a woman suffering from type 1 diabetes, the chances that your child will develop the same is 1 in every 25 if he or she was born before you were 25 years of age, and if the child is born after you were 25 years of age, the diabetes chance is a rare 1 in 100 children.

2. Viral Infections

As per a few researchers, another cause that can give rise to the type 1 diabetes condition in your child is some kind of viral infection. As per the study, there are a few viruses which play a huge role in destroying the immune system of the body. Some examples of these type of viruses include coxsackie, mumps, and German measles, amongst others.

Read Also: Swine Flu: A Trigger for Type 1 Diabetes?

3. Geography

Place where you are staying can also cause and increase your chances of developing type 1 diabetes condition. People and children who belong to the climates in the northern part of the world are more susceptible to contract type 1 diabetes. The reason for the same, as explained by the experts is that people who stay in the northern climates usually experience too cold temperatures and as such, they mostly stay indoors. The human contact in such a case is too high. With this, there are higher chances of getting and exchanging viruses. Besides, researchers have also observed that the cases diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are higher during winters when compared to that during summers

4. Diet Since a Young Age

Another reason explained by the experts include the type of diet that is taken by the children since a young age. The habit of eating certain kind of food makes a few people more susceptible to getting type 1 diabetes than others. For example, it has been observed that those who drink cow milk since a very young age are more prone to getting diabetes than those who do not.

5. Race to Which the Family Belongs

A few studies conducted by the experts also suggest that the race to which you belong also makes you more or less susceptible to developing type 1 diabetes. For example, Chinese people are less prone to contracting the disease. Similarly, in America, it is the Caucasians which are more prone to developing the condition than the people from the other races who reside in the United States of America.

6. Immune System of the Body

Diabetes is essentially a disease which adversely affects the immune system of our body. As such, if you are someone who is already suffering from a disease which hampers your immune system, you will stand a greater chance of getting type 1 diabetes. Some of these diseases include Graves’ disease and multiple sclerosis, amongst others.

Mechanism That Triggers Type 1 Diabetes

When our body is attacked by viruses, the T-cells of the body produce antibodies which help to fight against these viruses. Now sometimes, these antibodies act against the beta cells when both these types have the same property. Beta cells are the ones which help the pancreas to produce insulin. The process takes a long time and is this mechanism that triggers the onset of type 1 diabetes in any person. The viruses which can affect and destroy the beta cells are the ones which have the same type of antigens as the virus which has attacked the body. These include German measles, Rotavirus, mumps, and others.

Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes:

The major treatment of type 1 diabetes includes the following:

Medical Treatments

In order to treat type 1 diabetes, the following medical treatments are available:


As seen above, type 1 diabetes is a condition which takes place when the pancreas of our body does not produce enough insulin. As such, a person who is affected by it needs to take insulin throughout his or her life.

There are several types of insulin available such as rapid-acting insulin, insulin isophane, insulin lispro, insulin aspart, etc.

It is important to know that the insulin can be administered in the patient’s body in one of the following ways:

  • Injections: The most way of administering insulin is through injections. There are multiple daily injections. More often than not, parents are advised to inject their child with three or more insulins throughout the day.
  • Insulin Pump: another way of administering insulin into the body of the child is with the help of a device known as an insulin pump. The device can be worn outside the body of the patient, or as a waistband, or you can also keep it in the patient’s pocket. There is a wireless version of the same available as well.

Artificial Pancreas:

As we know by now, it is the pancreas of our body which is responsible for the production of insulin. Hence, one of the other medical ways of getting diabetes type 1 treated is the administration of artificial pancreas in the body. However, it is to be remembered that this is a treatment which has not yet been completely developed. The administering of an artificial pancreas in the patient is a proposal which is still in its initial stages.


Doctors often prescribe taking an aspirin daily so that your child’s heart is protected.


One of the problems of type 1 diabetes could be the sudden increase in the blood glucose levels just after a meal. The objective of this injection is to prevent the same from happening.

Other Medication and Drugs

Another important drug that is given to type 1 diabetes patients is medicines which can keep the cholesterol levels under control. Also, the doctors prescribe medicines to keep the blood glucose levels under control.

Treatment Through Diet

It is a well-known fact that the best way to manage diabetes is to keep a watch on the food that you eat. As such, following are a few guidelines that could be handy in helping you follow a diet that will help to manage diabetes in an effective manner:

  • Make sure that when you are consuming food which has carbohydrates in them, the glycemic load present therein should be low in such foods
  • The consumed fats and proteins should ideally come from the plants. This is helpful in managing diabetes to a great extent
  • For every calorie consumed, you need to make sure you get all the essential vitamin, nutrient, and fiber.
  • You should carefully intake only the recommended quantity of protein, which in most cases is around 6 ounces. This includes eggs, beans, soy foods, peas, amongst other sources of protein.
  • The quantum of carbohydrates intake will determine the amount of insulin which needs to be taken by those who suffer from diabetes.
  • Recommended carbohydrates for type 1 diabetes include foods like brown rice, Oatmeal, lentils, and beans, etc.
  • Fats are useful as they slow down the absorption of carbohydrates. This goes a long way in helping to maintain a balanced level of blood glucose in the body. Some examples of essential fats include food items such as olive oil and nuts.
  • Besides, fiber-rich food is also considered essential for the treatment of type1 diabetes.
  • Finally, experts recommend that you should feed your child with green leafy vegetables and a few fruits which are helpful for the treatment of diabetes. Some recommended fruits include apples, blueberries, grapefruit, bananas, etc.

It is hereby important to note that the above eating plan is to keep yourself healthy in general, and not just for type 1 diabetic patient.

Regular Exercising

Type 1 diabetes is basically a metabolic condition where the immune system of the body is weakened. Regular exercising thus helps in building up the metabolism function of the body. However, before starting to exercise, you need to consult your medical expert first. It is only after that that you should make exercise a part of your daily routine.

Having said that, it is very important for you to check how the physical activity is affecting your blood sugar levels. If it does not raise the blood sugar level, it is only then that you should go for the physical exercise.

Blood Sugar Monitoring

The most important consideration, while you try to manage type 1 diabetes in your child is to regularly monitor the level of blood sugar or blood glucose. The following prescribed range of blood glucose should be kept in mind:

  • For a diabetic patient, the fasting blood sugar is under 126mg/dl or even higher.
  • As per the American Diabetes Association, the normal blood sugar for a diabetic should be around 80-130mg/dl before the meals and around 200mg/dl a couple of hours after meals.

Because of the importance of maintaining the blood sugar level within range, experts advise that you check your child’s glucose level at least four times in a day. You also need to pay a visit to the doctor regularly.

Read Also: 10 Best Advice to parents of Children with Diabetes

We hope that the article has been helpful in making you understand more about type 1 diabetes in children, its causes, symptoms, as well as what is the treatment available for this condition. While dealing with it, remember that you need to be consistent with the type of lifestyle that you are following and also keep yourself motivated. Do not ever think that your child is the only one suffering from the condition. There are others who are dealing with this condition every day and are trying to help their child lead a life as healthy and normal as possible!!

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