One of a parent’s goals is to ensure their child has a healthy immune system to combat diseases and infections. There are times, however, when the immune system attacks children’s healthy cells and glands, not allowing them to produce the correct amounts of hormones.
When this occurs, the child typically has an autoimmune disorder, which can result in an endocrine disorder. One of the most common disorders in children is Type 1 Diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes commonly appears in children between the ages of 4 and 7, and again between ages 10 and 14. Parents should watch out for early symptoms as it is possible that the disease can appear gradually or suddenly.
Sanford Children’s provides 35 pediatric specialties, with over 135 experts to keep children close to home for primary and specialty care.
“Early signs of type 1 diabetes in a child can include weight loss, fatigue, abdominal pain, excessive thirst, excessive urination, bed wetting, irritability, or mood changes,” said Dr. Katie Larson, a pediatrician with Sanford Children’s.
In the event that a child displays signs, parents should consult a pediatrician. The pediatrician will evaluate the patient’s symptoms and perform several tests.
A diagnosis of diabetes will be given if the child’s blood sugar levels are high.
“My son was diagnosed at the age of 3. He was constantly asking for water, it was the middle of summer so at first, I attributed it to the heat, but then he started waking up at night asking for water. We knew something was wrong.”
Dr. Katie Larson
The patient will then be referred to a Pediatric Endocrinologist, one of 35 specialties at the Sanford Children’s Castle of Care. Pediatricians work closely with these specialists, and Larson says they are fortunate to have easy access to their expertise.
“The role of the Endocrinologist is to ensure that the patient and family understand the diagnosis and then help them with the treatment plan,” said Larson. “They will help make changes to the treatment as the child grows and changes.”
Although managing diabetes can be challenging, she says that Endocrinologists can help make things easier.
“Endocrinologists are the experts in diabetes and in helping keep the child healthy.”
Dr. Katie Larson
When first diagnosed, children will spend a few days in the hospital learning more about their diagnosis, as well as meeting with their Pediatric Endocrinologist, diabetes educator, and dietician.
The patient will continue to see this team of specialists and their primary care pediatrician, until adulthood.
Together, they ensure that their patients receive the appropriate care to stay safe and healthy.
DID YOU KNOW?
64,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes each year.
Children need to have good control of their diabetes. Without proper diagnosis or management, serious health issues can occur.
“If untreated or undiagnosed type 1 diabetes can lead to severe complications such as blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, and death,” said Larson.
Communicating with the child’s primary care provider and specialist is important to ensure the patient is educated on controlling their diabetes and avoiding future complications.