Healthy Tip Tuesday – Insulin Dependency for Children and Moms-to-Be
(Dennison, Ohio) – Diabetes isn’t something that only affects overweight older adults. Children and mom’s to be are also at risk.
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and Trinity Hospital Twin City (THTC) is breaking down the three types of the illness.
What is Diabetes?
Lu Ann Beavers-Willis, THTC Diabetes Wellness Coordinator, explains that insulin plays a key role in breaking down foods or beverages that have carbohydrates in them to a special kind of sugar called glucose. The breakdown happens in your gut with digestion and then the glucose leaves the gut and goes into the blood. “The glucose is fuel for every part of your body to be able to run,” she added. “The key is you have to have insulin linked up with glucose to get it into the cell. It actually opens the cell wall door to let the glucose go in.”
There are three types of diabetes that involve your pancreas not producing any insulin to a decrease in insulin to your body rejecting the insulin your pancreas is making.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 was previously known as insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes and is usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults, but can develop at any age. A person with Type 1 diabetes has a pancreas that isn’t making insulin or is making very little. It is much less common than Type 2 – with about 5% of people with diabetes having the illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can be caused by some kind of acute illness or insult to the pancreas and is a type of diabetes that is very sudden in onset and the pancreas basically shuts down, noted Beavers-Willis.
- A child suddenly loses a significant amount of weight over a short period of time.
- A child may be extremely thirsty and want to drink a lot of liquid and maybe beverages that are very sweet.
- They will use the bathroom frequently.
- They will be very tired and want to sleep a lot.
She noted there may also be very specific symptoms like a child’s breath having a fruity odor, the child may be queasy and throwing up. “All of those would be signs of what I would say are red flags that they should be taken to the emergency room right away.”
According to the CDC, if your child has Type 1 diabetes, you’ll be involved in diabetes care on a day-to-day basis, from serving healthy foods to giving insulin injections to watching for and treating hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). You’ll also need to stay in close contact with your child’s health care team; they will help you understand the treatment plan and how to help your child stay healthy.
Type Two Diabetes
The CDC indicates more than 30 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and 90% to 95% of them have type 2 diabetes. This type of the illness most often develops in people over age 45, but Beavers-Willis notes it is becoming more common in children. “In the past, we always associated this with a slow progressing decrease of the amount of insulin production of the pancreas to middle or older adults. But, due to a lot of lifestyle choices where children are less physically active, they are eating more carbohydrates, processed food and being overweight or obese is more common, more children are developing Type 2 diabetes.”
The CDC indicates that more than 75% of children with Type 2 diabetes have a close relative who has it too. But, it’s not always because family members are related and can actually be more about how they share certain habits that increase the risk. Parents can help prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes by developing a plan for the whole family:
- Drinking more water and fewer sugary drinks.
- Eating more fruits and vegetables.
- Making favorite foods healthier.
- Making physical activity more fun. In a previous Healthy Tip Tuesday Article THTC offered a list of fun, family activities to get everyone up and moving!
This is a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy in women who don’t already have diabetes. According to the CDC, every year 2% to 10% of pregnancies in the United States are affected by gestational diabetes.
Beavers-Willis noted this happens when the hormones in the placenta make a woman resistant to her insulin. “So, her pancreas is still working hard trying to make insulin, but her body doesn’t recognize it.”
While this type of diabetes is usually cured when the woman gives birth, it significantly increases her risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. “Evidence-based medicine shows that those women who have had one or more cases of gestational diabetes are 50% likely to develop Type 2 diabetes,” she said.
Additionally, having gestational diabetes can increase your risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy. It can also increase your risk of having a large baby that needs to be delivered by cesarean section (C-section), according to the CDC. If you have gestational diabetes, your baby is at higher risk of:
- Being very large (9 pounds or more), which can make delivery more difficult.
- Being born early, which can cause breathing and other problems.
- Having low blood sugar.
- Developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.
“They also need to communicate that to their children when they are old enough to understand. You know, I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with you, I want you to understand you’re at greater risk,” added Beavers-Willis.
The CDC indicates there are steps woman take before getting pregnant to prevent developing gestational diabetes. Some may be encouraged to lose weight if they are overweight and to engage in more physical activity. However, experts note you should never try to lose weight if you’re already pregnant. You’ll need to gain some weight – but not to quickly – for your baby to be healthy. This is a conversation you should have with your doctor as to the best way to move forward.