Type 2 Diabetes in Children
Your child needs to eat healthy meals with appropriate portions to support growth and prevent weight gain. The meal plan for your child will also spread Reference carbohydrate Opens New Window throughout the day to prevent high blood sugar after meals. For information on healthy eating and weight management, see the topic Reference Healthy Eating for Children.
- Reference Reference Diabetes in Children: Counting Carbs
- Reference Reference Healthy Eating: Helping Your Child Learn Healthy Eating Habits
- Reference Diabetes in Children: Food Issues at School
Encourage your child (age 6 to 17) to do moderate to vigorous activity at least 1 hour every day. Limit the amount of time your child watches TV and uses the computer and cell phone. You can help your Reference child or teen be active by looking for ways to make activity more fun and by being active along with your child.
For children age 2 and older: The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to limit screen time to 2 hours a day or less. And it's best for children younger than 2 to not watch TV, watch movies, or play games on a screen.
Work with your child's teachers and school to make a plan to handle your child's special needs, including testing blood sugar and eating snacks when needed.
Your child can take part in the same activities as other children. For safety:
- Let the coach know that your child has diabetes. If your child doesn't take insulin, he or she may not be at risk for low blood sugar episodes. But making sure that the coach knows the Reference symptoms of low blood sugar may still be a good idea.
- Take your child's Reference home blood sugar meter Opens New Window to sports practice sessions and games. Check his or her blood sugar level before and after each activity, if needed.
- Take a Reference snack that contains carbohydrate to all practice sessions and games in case of a low blood sugar episode.
Home blood sugar monitoring
You and your child will need to monitor his or her blood sugar frequently to know how well it is under control. Talk with your doctor about a target range for your child. Young children may need a higher blood sugar goal than adults because of growth needs and to prevent very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). As your child grows older, the goal can be lowered so that it is closer to the recommended Reference target range.
Your child may not need to take insulin if his or her blood sugar levels are staying within a target range with meal planning, exercise, and possibly other medicine. But at some point your child may need to take insulin because the Reference pancreas Opens New Window may produce less and less insulin.
If your child takes insulin, you and your child need to know how to prepare and give a shot.
Other important issues include:
- How to recognize and treat high blood sugar. Blood sugar levels that suddenly rise above a target range can lead to an emergency.
- How to recognize and treat low blood sugar. Your child is not likely to have a sudden drop in blood sugar level unless he or she is taking sulfonylurea or meglitinide medicines for diabetes or insulin injections and is unable to eat regular meals.
- Wearing Reference medical identification Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window at all times. In an emergency, medical identification lets people know that your child has diabetes so they can care for your child appropriately.
- Where to get support. Many areas of the country have support groups for children and teens with diabetes and for family members. These groups provide encouragement and suggestions that may help you and your child deal with the daily issues of diabetes care. Talk with your doctor about groups in your area.
- How to care for the feet. Your child needs to wear shoes that fit properly. He or she should not go barefoot outdoors. It's a good idea to begin the habit of inspecting your child's feet periodically or any time he or she has a foot complaint. Look for signs of injury or infection. If you notice a foot problem, even a minor one, talk with your doctor before treating it.
- What to do for illness. Some general Reference sick-day guidelines may be helpful. These include checking your child's blood sugar every 4 hours during the illness and encouraging your child to drink fluids to prevent dehydration. Do not give your child any Reference nonprescription medicines Opens New Window without talking with a doctor or pharmacist. Some of these medicines can affect blood sugar levels.
What to think about
Childhood and the teen years are a difficult time to be diagnosed with diabetes. Normal developmental changes may interfere with your child following his or her treatment. Reference Teens with diabetes may rebel against treatment or participate in risky behavior, such as using drugs or drinking alcohol.
You play a major role in helping your child become independent in his or her diabetes care. Allow your child to do as much of the care as possible. But give your child the support and guidance he or she needs. Your child will be more successful if your family is physically active and has healthy eating habits.
- Children in elementary school can cooperate in all tasks required for their care. By age 8, children can test their own blood sugar if they are supervised.
- Children in middle school or junior high school should be able to test their own blood sugar, but they may need help during low blood sugar episodes. By age 10, some children can give insulin injections if they are supervised.
- With appropriate supervision, teens should be able to handle their care. If the teen needs to take insulin, he or she may choose to use an Reference insulin pump Opens New Window instead of injections. If your teen chooses to use a pump, be sure to supervise.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference August 1, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Reference Stephen LaFranchi, MD - Pediatrics, Pediatric Endocrinology