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Diabetes Health Center

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How to Manage Your Kid's Type 1 Diabetes


Day-to-Day Care continued...

Despite what you may have heard, people with type 1 can eat what they want. Sweets are fine, but they need to be tracked. "It's not about restricting, it's about counting," says Hulke.

Ditto with sports. Kids can play -- they just need to check blood sugar levels before and after. Bring snacks along at all times "just in case." It's a good way to help keep ranges normal.

And with the exception of check-ups, kids with type 1 don’t miss school more often than other kids.

The key is stable diabetes control. "Kids with type-1 diabetes should be allowed to live a normal life," says Chiang. That includes parties, sleepovers, trick or treating, school trips, and sports, she says. Special attention should be given to days when your child is sick, as blood sugar levels may change more dramatically.

Away-From-Home Care

When your child is going to be away from you, plan ahead for greater peace of mind. Your child should wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace at all times. Make sure caregivers know the basics of diabetes care. Have a plan that teachers, coaches, friends' parents, and others in charge of your child know. Mom Lisa Sterling gave each a notebook of how-tos and symptoms to watch for.

"Diabetes camps" for kids with type 1 can be great practice for longer trips away from home. They have trained health staff on hand, and they let your child spend time with other kids with the same condition. They can compare notes and have a chance to feel less "different."

The Transition to Self-Care

Much depends on what age your child is diagnosed with type 1. Those who find out when they are very young may be ready to check and track their own blood sugar by grade school. Others may need more help. It takes time to learn the routine and to become aware of how your body feels when blood sugar is too high or too low.

There's no fixed age to manage diabetes without help. "Even a teen can't do it all without a parent's support, like sharing care at night or on sick days," says Chiang.

The basic idea is to slowly involve your child more and more in food choices, tracking, listening to their body, and other parts of care. That's good prep for the day she moves out of the house.

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