Type 1 diabetes in children is most commonly caused by an autoimmune disorder where their immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This causes a decrease, or complete absence, of insulin which leads to abnormally high blood sugar levels.
After eating, the amount of glucose (blood sugar) in our blood goes up. This alerts the pancreas, which then sends insulin into the body to allow the glucose to move from the blood into the cells. Without insulin, this cannot happen, resulting in high blood sugar levels. The exact cause of this autoimmune response if not fully understood, but it’s believed to potentially involve genetic and environmental factors.
Children can develop both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, although type 2 is typically more common in adults than children.
Diabetes can have various causes, but in children, type 1 diabetes is the most common form. It is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how the body turns food into energy. Insulin is a hormone, made by the pancreas, that helps glucose get into your cells to be used for energy. Children with diabetes cannot produce enough insulin, leading to high blood sugar (glucose) levels. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed during childhood and is also known as juvenile diabetes. More often, it appears after the age of 5, but it is possible for infants and toddlers to be diagnosed.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or does not produce enough insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels; this type is less common in children as they generally have higher metabolisms and are more physically active, which can help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.
Diabetics need to be cautious about their feet because high blood sugar levels can lead to nerve damage and blood vessel issues. This can result in decreased sensation and blood circulation to the feet, making them more prone to infections, injuries, and slow healing.
In children with diabetes, it's important to pay attention to their foot health as they are more susceptible to foot problems. Whilst a good foot care routine is beneficial to all children, regardless of whether they have diabetes or not, children with this disease are known to be more susceptible to developing foot problems.
A good foot care routine will help identify any potential cause for concern quickly, allowing you to resolve them before they become an issue.
Below are a couple of tips that you can take to help:
Spotting diabetes in a child can be challenging as the symptoms may not be very specific. However, common signs include excessive thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and increased hunger. If your child has a couple of these symptoms, chances are it’s no cause for concern. However, if you notice a lot of these symptoms in your child, or they’ve lasted for more than two weeks, it's recommended you visit your GP to find out what’s causing the problem.
Remember, caring for children’s feet as well as proper foot health care is important for all children - regardless of whether they have diabetes or not. However, for children with diabetes, it becomes even more crucial to prevent complications and keep their feet as healthy as possible.