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Type 1 Diabetes in Children: Caring for Your Child - Topic Overview

Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong disease that currently has no cure. Your child needs to take insulin injections. This can be a scary process for adults, not to mention for a child. If your child is very young, you will need to give these injections. When your child is older, he or she can take on some of the responsibility for insulin injections.

If your child doesn't want to feel the insulin needle, your child's doctor can prescribe an indwelling subcutaneous cannula. A small needle is used to insert a soft tube into a place where you give your child an insulin shot, such as the belly. The needle is taken out, but the soft tube (cannula) stays in your child's body and is held in place with tape. Then, when your child needs insulin, the insulin needle is put into the cannula instead of into the skin. This way, your child won't have to feel the insulin needle. The cannula can be used for at least 3 days before your child will need a new one.


Your child needs to watch his or her diet closely. Again, this is an area many adults have difficulty with, and it can be even harder on a child. It helps if the entire family gets involved, eats healthy foods, and learns about counting carbohydrate. Although the lure of eating junk foods remains, you can balance your child's meals with healthier selections at home. Above all, a child needs to understand the relationship between food and his or her blood sugar.

Many children eat extra foods without telling their parents or other adults. This can lead to high blood sugar levels and hospitalizations. Make it clear to your child that eating equals a need for insulin, and he or she should always tell an adult when eating something that's not on the meal plan for the day.

It's helpful to incorporate the idea of balance into your child's understanding. If your child wants to eat a food not on the meal plan for the day, then your child needs to adjust the insulin dose to reflect this change.

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