Diabetes in Children: Causes, Risks, and Symptoms

Diabetes in Children: Causes, Risks, and Symptoms

Children who suffer from diabetes can experience symptoms such as frequent thirst and frequent urination, and eat a lot but actually lose weight. As a parent, it is important for you to recognize the various risks and symptoms of diabetes in children so that this condition is not late to be treated by a doctor.

The body needs the hormone insulin to help cells, tissues, and organs use glucose or blood sugar as an energy source. This hormone insulin is produced in the pancreas.

Diabetes in Children: Causes, Risks, and Symptoms


When the insulin hormone is reduced or the body's cells have difficulty using insulin, blood sugar buildup can occur. This is what causes diabetes.

According to data from the Indonesian Pediatric Association (IDAI), the incidence of diabetes in children aged 0-18 years in Indonesia has increased to more than 1000 cases in the past 10 years.

Types of Diabetes in Children

Based on the cause, diabetes in children is generally divided into 2 types, namely:

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a type of diabetes that is more common in children and adolescents. But type 1 diabetes can also sometimes affect infants, toddlers, and adults.

Type 1 diabetes occurs due to an autoimmune disorder, in which the child's immune system damages or destroys his own pancreas, so that pancreatic function becomes disrupted.

As a result, children who suffer from type 1 diabetes produce little or no insulin. This condition can cause blood sugar levels to increase and over time damage organs and tissues.

Until now, the exact cause of type 1 diabetes in children is unknown. However, a child can be prone to type 1 diabetes if he has the following risk factors:

  • Genetic or hereditary, for example have a family history of type 1 diabetes.
  • History of viral infection.
  • Unhealthy eating patterns, for example, often consume sweet foods or drinks, such as candy, ice cream, packaged fruit juice, or dried fruit.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance or a condition when the cells of a child's body have difficulty using insulin to use blood sugar as energy. In certain cases, type 2 diabetes can also occur due to reduced insulin production. Because of this disorder, the child's blood sugar level can increase.

Type 2 diabetes is usually prone to occur in children aged over 10 years or in their teens.

There are several risk factors that can make a child vulnerable to type 2 diabetes, namely:

  • Have a parent or relative with a history of diabetes.
  • Excessive weight or obesity in children.
  • The habit of often consuming foods high in sugar and fat.
  • Lack of active movement or rarely exercise.

Symptoms of Diabetes in Children

Symptoms of type 1 and 2 diabetes are also generally difficult to distinguish and often resemble each other. Some children who suffer from type 1 or type 2 diabetes have no symptoms or feel any complaints.

However, in some other children, diabetes can cause the following symptoms:

1. Frequent thirst and urination

Excess blood sugar levels will be removed through urine. This will make children urinate frequently or even wet. With the amount of body fluids that come out, children will quickly feel thirsty and drink more than usual.

2. Increased appetite

Children who have diabetes will have difficulty producing energy due to malfunction or reduced amount of insulin. As a result, children will often feel hungry and eat more to get energy.

3. Weight loss

Although eating more than usual, but the weight of a child suffering from diabetes will actually go down. Without the supply of energy from sugar, muscle tissue and fat deposits will shrink. Weight loss for no apparent reason is often the first sign of diabetes in children.

4. Look tired or lethargic

A child who has diabetes may look weak and lethargic because of a lack of energy in the body. Children can still look lethargic even though they have eaten in large quantities or portions.

5. Blurred vision

High blood sugar levels due to diabetes over time can cause eye nerves to swell. This condition can make a child experience visual impairment or blurred vision.

6. Wounds or infections appear in the body that are difficult to heal

Because of high blood sugar levels, a child who has diabetes will have a wound that is difficult to heal when injured or injured. In addition to inhibiting the wound healing process, diabetes can also make children vulnerable to infection.

7. Blackened skin color

Insulin resistance can cause skin to darken, especially in the armpit and neck area. This condition is called acanthosis nigrikans.

In addition to some of the symptoms above, a child suffering from diabetes also often shows signs of other symptoms, such as frequent fussing or crying constantly, breathing smells like fruit, and diaper rash appears.

Treatment of Diabetes in Children

Diabetes treatment in children needs to be adjusted to the type of diabetes suffered by children. To determine the diagnosis, the doctor will conduct a physical examination and support in the form of a blood sugar test and a diabetic autoantibody test to determine whether the child has type 1 or 2 diabetes.

If a child is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the doctor will provide insulin therapy to control blood sugar. Meanwhile, if the child has type 2 diabetes, the doctor will give antidiabetic drugs. Insulin therapy can also be given in type 2 diabetes, if the diabetes suffered by children is already severe.

In addition, doctors will also usually encourage parents to maintain their child's diet and encourage children to exercise regularly.

Diabetes that is late to be treated generally will lead to a number of severe complications that can affect the condition of your child. Therefore, make sure you check your child's condition to the pediatrician if he has a high risk or has shown some symptoms of diabetes in children.

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