Questions About Diabetes? We’ve Got Answers.

November is Diabetes Awareness month.  Once again we have teamed up with Texas Children’s Hospital, this time, to bring you important information about diabetes and your family’s health.  This week we hear from Dr. Tracy Patel, Dr. Lynda Lin and Robyn Klenk, NP. 

What’s the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

In children with Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce insulin, a hormone which is necessary to maintain a normal blood glucose level. This deficiency of insulin results in hyperglycemia – or high blood sugar. In Type 2 diabetes a child’s body is insulin resistant – in other words, the body does not respond to the insulin that is being made.

Type 1 diabetes is more common in children and symptoms include fatigue, frequent urination (including bedwetting), extreme thirst and hunger, as well as unexplained weight loss.

Type 2 diabetes occurs more often in those who are overweight or obese. It is commonly diagnosed in adults, but with the rise in childhood obesity, it is now being diagnosed in children and adolescents. It has been found to be hereditary and certain ethnic groups have a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Specifically, those of African-American, Mexican-American, American Indian or Asian/Pacific Islander descent have a higher risk than other ethnicities.

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes are similar to those of symptoms of Type 1. A major clinical feature associated with Type 2 diabetes, which is not shared with Type 1, is acanthosis nigricans – a darkening and thickening of the skin around the neck or under the arms that won’t wash off.  This is a sign of insulin resistance.

Are you at risk for diabetes?  Take the American Diabetes Association’s online test here.

What is a normal blood sugar level for my child? How is my child screened for or diagnosed with diabetes?

Your child’s blood sugar levels can vary depending on whether they have been fasting or have recently eaten. Some common tests used to screen for diabetes are:

Fasting Blood Sugar: (Fasting is considered as having no food or beverage, except water, for eight hours.)

  1. A normal fasting blood sugar is between 70 and 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
  2. A fasting blood sugar between 100 and 126 mg/dL could indicate prediabetes or impaired glucose tolerance.
  3. A fasting blood sugar greater than 126 mg/dL may indicate a diagnosis of diabetes and needs to be further evaluated.

Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c): This is a blood test that reflects your child’s average blood sugar level over the past three months. For patients with diabetes, this test demonstrates how well your child’s blood sugar is being controlled.

Two Hour Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT): This is the gold standard test to make the diagnosis of diabetes. It is typically done in the morning after eight hours of fasting. A standard dose of glucose is ingested by mouth and blood levels are checked two hours later.

Talk to your pediatrician if you have questions or concerns about your child’s blood sugar.

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program can help you take control of your health.  Click here to learn more.

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