Types of Diabetes We Treat in Children
The two most common types of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. We also treat these and other types of diabetes that are less common.
Type 1 Diabetes
Formerly called juvenile diabetes, Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system destroys cells in the pancreas that create insulin.
Type 2 Diabetes
In Type 2 diabetes, your child’s body creates insulin but either doesn’t produce enough or doesn’t use it well. This causes your child to have high blood sugar levels, which can lead to serious health complications over time. Type 2 diabetes used to be less common in children, but it is on the rise as childhood obesity has become more prevalent.
Prediabetes in Children
Prediabetes refers to higher-than-normal blood sugar levels. The levels are not high enough to show diabetes is present, but high enough to indicate diabetes may develop.
This type of diabetes is diagnosed in newborns by six months of age when tests find high levels of sugar in the blood. It is caused by a change in a gene that affects insulin production.
Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY)
MODY is different from Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. It is caused by a gene mutation and runs in families. If one parent has the gene, there is a 50% chance that your child will be diagnosed with MODY during adolescence or by their early 20s.
Cystic Fibrosis-Related Diabetes (CFRD)
Children with cystic fibrosis may develop a unique type of diabetes that is not Type 1 or Type 2.
The Importance of Diabetes Education and Follow-Up
We encourage you and your child to attend diabetes education classes starting within two months of your first visit. These classes are offered virtually and in person and are key to helping you and your child learn how to manage diabetes. During these classes, you’ll learn:
- How to use diabetes medicines, including insulin pens and pumps, and how to store them properly
- How and when to check blood sugar levels and ketones
- What to do if your child's blood sugar is too high or too low
- What to include in your child’s “sick day” tool kit and why it’s important to always have it on hand
- About healthy eating habits, including how to count carbs, read labels, and choose foods are good for your child in the proper portions
Regular follow-up visits with our diabetes team are important for your child’s health. They help us identify problems, such as high blood sugar or complications that may arise that need to be treated quickly and effectively. They’re also a good time for you to ask questions about your child’s care.
Access to the Latest Treatments and Research
Your child will be treated by experienced pediatric endocrinologists who are knowledgeable about the latest advances in diabetes care. This includes access to new technologies for monitoring blood sugar and delivering insulin. In fact, we were one of the first hospitals to use insulin pumps in infants and toddlers. Our doctors also participate in national research and may offer your child access to clinical trials studying new therapies that are not available elsewhere.