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Type 1 Diabetes: Children Living With the Disease - Exams and Tests

A child with type 1 diabetes needs to visit his or her doctor at least every 3 to 6 months. During these visits, the doctor reviews your child's blood sugar level records and asks about any problems you and your child may have. Your child's blood pressure is checked, and growth and development is evaluated. The doctor examines your child for signs of infections, especially at injection sites. Your child usually has the following tests at office visits:

  • A hemoglobin A1c or similar test (glycosylated hemoglobin or glycohemoglobin) to check your child's blood sugar control over the previous 2 to 3 months
  • A blood glucose test. This is a good time to check the accuracy of your child's blood sugar meter.

If your child has a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease and is over 2 years old, your child's doctor may do a cholesterol (LDL and HDL) test when type 1 diabetes is diagnosed or as soon as blood sugars are under control. If there is no family history of high cholesterol, your child may have a cholesterol test at puberty. If the LDL cholesterol is less than 100 mg/dL (2.60 mmol/L) and there is no family history of high cholesterol, the doctor may repeat this test every 5 years.

Diabetes increases your child's risk for dental problems. Experts suggest dental checkups every 6 months.

Nutritional needs change as children grow and develop. See a registered dietitian at least once a year to review your child's meal plan.

5 years after diagnosis

Your child will have an initial dilated eye exam (ophthalmoscopy) by an ophthalmologist or an optometrist when your child is at least 10 years old and has had diabetes for 3 to 5 years. This eye exam checks for signs of diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. Thereafter, your child may have an eye exam every year. If your child is at low risk for vision problems, your doctor may consider follow-up exams less often.

Your child's doctor will also start doing an annual urine test to check for protein (microalbumin). This test helps detect diabetic nephropathy.

Other tests

Your child may have a test for thyroid antibodies when type 1 diabetes is diagnosed. Also, a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test and a thyroxine (T4) test may be done every 1 to 2 years. These tests check for thyroid problems, which are common among people who have type 1 diabetes.

Other tests include:

  • Annual foot exam starting at puberty.
  • Routine screening for depression after your child is 10 years old.
  • Eating disorder evaluation if your child shows signs of an eating problem.
  • Celiac disease testing when type 1 diabetes is diagnosed and then if your child is not growing or gaining weight as much as expected.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 28, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

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Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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