Diabetes in children can manifest itself in two different types-Juvenile on-set, which is sometimes referred to as “Type 1 diabetes” and Type 2 or “adult onset diabetes.” Many of the same things can cause both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, such as heredity and environmental factors. These will be discussed in more depth later in the article.
Type 1 diabetes occurs most commonly in children, thus the distinction of “juvenile on-set diabetes” to describe this disorder. Type 1 diabetes is considered to be an autoimmune disease, which is usually progressive.
Heredity can play a role in Type 1 diabetes, although it is not the sole cause. Children who have a family history of diabetes are at an increased risk for developing both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, but this does not mean that they will. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, children who have a “first-degree” relative-that is, a mother or father still have only a 10% chance of contracting Type 1 diabetes.
It has been speculated, and some research has shown, that viral infections may cause a child who may already prone to Type 1 diabetes to contract the disease. Some of the viral infections that may be responsible for this condition appearing can include mumps and Coxsackie virus.
In addition, pregnant women who are exposed to and contract rubella during the first trimester of pregnancy can give birth to children with a condition known as “congenital rubella”. This can cause a number of birth defects and medical problems such as heart problems, deafness, vision impairment, and, in some children, Type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes in children can be caused by other factors besides heredity. These include environmental factors, as mentioned earlier. Environmental factors can include exposure to certain chemicals or circumstances which can lead to childhood obesity. These can include a sedentary lifestyle, whether by choice or because it is difficult for a child to get enough physical exercise and poor eating habits, just to name a couple.
The increase of Type 2 diabetes in children, which again is a condition that is (or, as the case is now, once was) more commonly seen in adults, is becoming a growing concern among many in the healthcare field, especially when it is caused by childhood obesity. For this reason, continuing education and the dissemination of information concerning childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes is becoming more prevalent.
The most significant difference in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is that Type 2 diabetes can be greatly diminished or in some cases even eliminated by a careful monitoring of a child’s weight and diet. Taking steps to prevent or treat childhood obesity as well as ensuring that children get enough physical exercise are both ways to control Type 2 diabetes.
Children with Type 1 diabetes must also watch their weight and diet; however, the fact that this condition can be caused by other things may mean that a child will need to take insulin, either orally, by injection, or through pump administration for the majority of, if not all of his life. However, children and parents can be taught how to manage Type 1 diabetes so that a normal life can be led by those who suffer from this disease.