Has your child recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes? Here’s what you should know.
The diagnosis of diabetes hits parents hard. Questions arise. Are they sure of the diagnosis? What is going to happen to my child? How did this happen? Perhaps guilt starts to overshadow one’s thoughts and fear sets in. Take a moment to gather your thoughts and prepare some questions to ask your doctor regarding the care and concerns you have for your child.
“How Come My Child Has Diabetes?”
There are many factors in the development of type 2 diabetes such as family history, overweight for age and inactivity. Your doctor or diabetes educator can answer questions and direct you to books and/or websites to help you understand the cause that is specific to your child.
“He ate pie last night for dessert, did that cause the diabetes?“
Eating food high in sugar does not cause diabetes, per se, especially not consuming one isolated treat. However, eating more calories than the body needs and not using up those calories by physical activity may lead to excess weight gain and obesity. These are risk factors, as mentioned above.
“My neighbor has to take insulin shots every day. Will my child have to? He’s afraid of needles!“
People who have type 1 diabetes no longer make insulin in their pancreas and so they must take insulin daily. People with type 2 diabetes still make insulin, but it is not used correctly. Quite often, the person with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes is encouraged first to increase physical activity and control food and beverage intake in order to try to bring blood sugar levels to within a normal range. At some point, he/she may need to take pills or insulin in order to achieve the best blood sugar control. A participating, well-informed patient (parent) is the major part of a health care team.
Here are some ways to prepare for a first doctor’s visit:
- Read information from reliable, updated sources on type 2 diabetes before seeing the doctor. Some suggestions: www.diabetes.org or www.niddk.nih.gov or contact your local chapter of the American Diabetes Association.
- Write up a list of questions for the doctor. Your reading may help answer a lot of questions too.
- Request a consult with a diabetes educator and/or attend a diabetes education course.
- Request a consult with a Registered Dietitian who can help you plan healthful meals and snacks for the whole family.
- Try to ignore well-meant advice from friends and family. They may or may not have the correct information for your child. Every person with diabetes needs to have individualized treatment.
Lots to think about because your life will be changing. Let’s work together to help your child (and all your children!) grow up healthy and happy!