In Type 1 diabetes, the body attacks the cells in the pancreas that make insulin, so insulin cannot be made any more. Insulin allows the glucose (sugar) in our blood to enter our cells and fuel our bodies.
When a person develops Type 1 diabetes, their body still breaks down the carbohydrate from food and drink and turns it into glucose. However when the glucose enters the bloodstream, there’s no insulin to allow it into your body’s cells. More and more glucose will then build up in the blood. This will lead to the body showing signs and symptoms of diabetes.
The common symptoms of diabetes can include:
• Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night
• Being very thirsty
• Feeling more tired than usual
• Losing weight without trying
And may also include:
• Genital itching or thrush
• Cuts and wounds take longer to heal
• Blurred vision
These symptoms happen in both adults and children and can develop quickly over a few weeks or days.
There are around 400,000 people with Type 1 diabetes in the UK and 29,000 are children. Around 85% of those with Type 1 diabetes do not have a family history of the condition and currently there is no known cause.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas slows down making insulin and/or the insulin does not work properly, leading to a rise in the blood sugar. Symptoms noted above can occur but develop more slowly, over years rather than weeks or days. Factors which can increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes include:
• older age
• if a parent, brother, sister or child has diabetes
• high blood pressure
• being overweight
When would the dietitian see a child or young person with diabetes?
The dietitian will see children and young people with diabetes:
• From birth to 19 years of age and whilst they remain under the children’s diabetes service.
• At the time of diagnosis and for regular follow up during the first year of diagnosis
• In the multi-disciplinary paediatric diabetes clinic when they attend for their 3 monthly medical review
Children, young people and their parents:
• Are offered an annual dietetic review as part of their annual medical review
• Can contact the dietitian for advice at any time
How does a dietitian help?
A Paediatric Dietitian trained in diabetes supports children, young people and their families within the hospital and in the community by providing advice on the following:
• A varied, balanced diet to support growth and development
• Eating for health and reducing the risk of long term complications
• Carbohydrates in food
• Methods for counting carbohydrate- this is needed to ensure that the correct dose of insulin is injected to help control Type 1 diabetes
• Managing food and exercise
• Food and insulin pump manage
Paediatric dietitians work closely with paediatricians, specialist paediatric diabetes nurses and clinical psychologists to provide patient centred care.
Below are some useful links to websites that can provide more information on diabetes for children and young people: