- Type 1 diabetes, previously known as juvenile diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which a person's pancreas stops producing insulin.
- In the US 40,000 people are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes each year
- For children with type 1 diabetes, playing outdoors in the sun, swimming and staying up late during summer can wreak havoc with their blood sugar levels.
In Type 1 diabetes the body does not produce insulin to lower the blood sugar. It was previously called as juvenile diabetes as it was diagnosed in children and young adults. There are about 1 million children with type 1 diabetes in India but globally it affects a larger number of children. Finland and Sweden have the highest incidence with 58 and 41 per 100,000 children suffering from Type 1 diabetes.
A worrying trend shows that more and more children under the age of 5 years are being diagnosed with this condition. There are nearly 50 genes or gene regions associated with type 1 diabetes and newer research may help find better cure for this condition. Gene therapy to produce insulin or also cell replacement of the pancreatic cell with surrogate beta cells are being researched for clinical application. Currently insulin pumps are most popular to control the blood sugar.
‘Children with type 1 diabetes need 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.’
Here are top ten summertime guidelines for children with type 1 diabetes (juvenile diabetes)
1.If your child is sleeping later than usual, check the child's blood sugar levels before letting the child go back to sleep.
2.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.
3.Insulin pumps should not go through airport X-ray machines.
4.Insulin should be stored at room temperature, when taking a road trip, travel with a cold pack for insulin.
5.Physical activity/exercise affects the blood sugar levels. Kids who are playing outdoors may need less insulin, so parents need to monitor and measure carefully.
6.If you are on insulin pump, disconnect it before getting in the waters.
7.If the child wants to take a break from wearing an insulin pump this summer, talk with your physician about long-acting injections.
8.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.
9.During summer, kids might be enrolled in new activities where others are not aware of their medical needs. Consider purchasing your child a diabetes ID bracelet.
10.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.