Type 1 Diabetes in Children
Managing type 1 diabetes is challenging, but with the help of an experienced team, your child can lead a healthy, active life. The Duke Children’s diabetes care team understands what it’s like to live with diabetes and provides comprehensive care, education, and support. We make sure you and your child have the information and resources you need to manage all aspects of living with diabetes -- physical, emotional, and practical. You can count on our support to help you and your child take control of your child’s health.
What Is Type 1 Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes, occurs when the body’s immune system destroys cells in the pancreas that create insulin. Insulin is a hormone that takes sugar (known as glucose) from your bloodstream and delivers it into your cells to be used for energy. Without insulin, your blood sugar levels remain high -- which can lead to serious health complications over time.
Because their bodies don’t make insulin, children with type 1 diabetes must get insulin from multiple daily injections or an insulin pump. They also must test their blood sugar levels throughout the day and pay special attention to diet and exercise.
Managing your child’s type 1 diabetes can sometimes seem overwhelming. The Duke Children’s diabetes care team can help you overcome these challenges. We offer expert medical guidance and give you and your child information, support, and encouragement to manage and live well with diabetes.
A Comprehensive, Team Approach to Type 1 Diabetes
At Duke Children’s, you can be confident that your child will receive care from an experienced team that’s known for its expertise.
- We’re nationally ranked for pediatric diabetes and endocrinology by U.S. News & World Report, and we are recognized by the American Diabetes Association for our diabetes self-management education.
- We address all the health challenges that can occur with diabetes, such as kidney, vision, and nerve problems. We evaluate your child’s overall health and work closely with primary care doctors, pediatricians, and other specialists to tailor your child’s treatment to their unique needs.
- Family-centered care helps you manage life with diabetes. Our care team will help you and your child understand and follow treatment guidelines, and incorporate good diet and exercise habits into your family’s lifestyle. We encourage your child and you to take an active role in making decisions about your child’s care.
- Your child will be treated by pediatric endocrinologists knowledgeable about the latest advances in type 1 diabetes care, such as 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, including studies through the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Diagnosing and Evaluating Your Child’s Type 1 Diabetes
Your pediatrician may have already diagnosed your child’s diabetes through blood and urine tests. Once you've been referred to a pediatric endocrinologist, they will do a thorough exam and additional blood and urine tests to confirm the diagnosis and evaluate your child’s health.
You’ll meet with the entire team, and we’ll walk you through everything -- including how to manage diabetes, how we monitor your child’s health, complications that can develop as a result of diabetes, and how those complications can be prevented.
- Social workers will ask your child questions to evaluate their mental health and screen for depression. We perform this screening to ensure your child gets the support they need.
- Diabetes educators will explain how to monitor your child’s blood sugar, how to give injections, and how to identify symptoms of low and high blood sugar.
- Dietitians will provide comprehensive information about when and what to eat -- and what not to eat -- to manage blood sugar and stay healthy.
- Comprehensive diabetes management classes cover topics such as what diabetes is, what your child can eat, how to avoid complications, exercising with diabetes, and how to use advanced technology such as glucose monitors and insulin pumps. In addition, we’ll connect you with local support groups for children with diabetes and their families.
TYPE 1 DIABETES IN CHILDREN
Treatments and Services
There’s no cure for diabetes; your child will need to manage it for a lifetime. We're here to guide and support you along the way. Diabetes changes over time, so your child's care team will adapt your child's treatment plan as needed.
Our diabetes educators will teach you and your child how and when to monitor their blood sugar and how to inject insulin multiple times a day. The diabetes educators are knowledgeable about the latest glucose-monitoring and insulin-delivery devices, such as pens, injections, and pumps. They can help you and your child find what’s right for your circumstances. Our social workers can provide information about your child’s condition and care needs to their teachers, sports coaches, and others.
Eating right to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and maintaining a healthy weight are crucial for managing type 1 diabetes. Duke Children’s diabetes educators and dietitians can teach you and your family about nutrition, exercise, menu planning, and more.
Regular checkups ensure your child is managing the physical and psychological aspects of living with diabetes. We monitor blood sugar control through urine and blood tests, including a blood test (A1C or glycated hemoglobin test) that measures blood sugar levels over the previous three months. Your pediatric endocrinologist will evaluate your child’s kidney, thyroid, and liver function, as well as their blood pressure and physical growth. They will also refer your child to a pediatric eye doctor for regular eye exams. These checkups help prevent common diabetes complications, such as vision problems.