November is Diabetes Awareness Month and whilst many adults are aware of the risks of developing type 2 diabetes if they make unhealthy lifestyle choices, what about babies and young children that develop unavoidable type 1 diabetes?
Important to note is that type 1 diabetes - a serious autoimmune disease in which the pancreas stops producing insulin - is most common amongst children.
Jackie Maimin, the CEO of the Independent Community Pharmacy Association (ICPA) explains that type 1 diabetes is unfortunately difficult to spot in infants because they cannot vocalise to their parents that they don’t feel right.
The ICPA provide a list of what to look for and the symptoms of paediatric diabetes in babies and toddlers:
Increased thirst and frequent urination
These are common symptoms of type 1 diabetes in toddlers and other young children.
“The reason for this is that rising blood-sugar levels trigger a reaction in the body that pulls liquids from the cells,” explains Maimin. “This will leave diabetic children thirsty, which leads to increased urination. If your toddler is potty-trained you may also notice that they revert back or have bed-wetting issues.”
This could be a sign that your child’s body isn’t able to turn the sugar in the bloodstream into energy.
Increased hunger and unexplained weight loss
Extreme hunger can be triggered when a child’s muscles and organs aren’t receiving enough energy,” says Maimin. “And sudden weight loss - especially if he or she is eating more - could also be a major warning sign."
Changes in vision
According to Maimin, high blood-glucose levels could lead to blurred vision or other eyesight issues. “Unfortunately at a very young age, your child will most likely not be able to articulate this.”
This type of infection may present itself as a nappy rash which is caused by excessive yeast.
Fruity smelling breath or sugar in urine
This is a sign that your child’s body is trying to eliminate sugar that it can’t get into its cells.
“If your child suddenly becomes unusually irritable, restless or moody it may be cause for concern, particularly if this coincides with the other symptoms listed here,” warns Maimin.
“If you have any reason to believe that you’re seeing signs of type 1 diabetes in your toddler, infant or baby, chat to your local community pharmacist for advice and a referral for further testing is necessary.”