For children with Type 1 diabetes the general lack of schedule, eating whenever hunger strikes, playing outdoors in the sun, swimming and staying up late during summer can wreak havoc with their blood sugar levels.
Michelle Schweiger, DO, MPH, director of Pediatric Endocrinology at the Cedars-Sinai Maxine Dunitz Children's Health Center, says, "It's important for all parents of children with Type 1 diabetes to stick to an eating and sleeping schedule, even during summer break, and to continue monitoring their blood sugars four to six times a day."
‘Kids who are outside playing all day may need less insulin, so parents need to monitor and measure carefully.’
Schweiger's summertime guidelines for her patients with Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes, include:
- If a child is sleeping later than usual, parents should check the child's blood sugar levels before letting the child go back to sleep.
- When traveling, parents should make sure to pack a letter from their child's pediatric endocrinologist authorizing them to travel with syringes, needles and pumps. Also, remember that pumps should not go through airport X-ray machines.
- Insulin needs to be at room temperature. If your child is taking a road trip, travel with a cold pack for the insulin.
- Exercise affects blood sugar levels. Kids who are outside playing all day may need less insulin, so parents need to monitor and measure carefully.
- Check blood sugar levels before your child goes swimming. If your child is on an insulin pump, you probably need to disconnect it before your child gets in the water.
- If your child wants to take a break from wearing an insulin pump this summer, talk with your doctor about long-acting injections.
- Parents sending their child to summer camp need to make sure the camp is aware of the child's needs. Find out if there is a counselor or a camp nurse who is familiar with the needs of Type 1 diabetes patients and who can treat high or low blood sugar levels. Find out where your child can store insulin and other diabetes-related equipment.
- During the summer, children might be enrolled in new activities where others are not aware of their medical needs. Consider purchasing your child a diabetes ID bracelet.
- Remember to stay well hydrated, especially in hot weather. Dehydration causes a rise in blood sugars. A good rule of thumb is to never wait until you are thirsty to drink water.