Your Child Has Type 1 Diabetes, Now What?

A crash course for parents dealing with a child's diagnosis.

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on April 09, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

If your child has recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, you probably have a lot of questions and concerns. You've just entered this new world of blood sugar checks, hemoglobin A1c levels, insulin shots, and finger pokes.

"It will take a lot of education to learn how to manage the disease, but you can do it," says Bonita Franklin, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist at NYU Langone Medical Center.

She outlines key points parents need to know.

It's not your fault. Many parents feel guilty and think, "Oh, I fed my child wrong," or "I gave type 1 to my child because it runs in my family." 

Genes play a role, but it's complex. And doctors don't understand the environmental triggers very well either. 

If scientists don't know what to do to prevent this condition, parents certainly don't. Reassure your child that it's not his fault either.

Your child can have a normal life. He'll be able to go to school, play sports, get a job -- everything you want for him.

You can handle this. You, your child, and the rest of the family will learn what you need to do, and your diabetes care team at your medical center will provide backup for you.

You need a "home team" in addition to the diabetes care team. This includes key close family members, friends, teachers, school nurses, babysitters, coaches, and camp counselors. 

Anyone who is closely involved in your child's life needs to be educated about diabetes and what your child needs. After you gain confidence about handling the condition, you become an educator for the other people in your child's life.

Do diabetes together. Nutrition for a child with type 1 requires a lot of knowledge and self-control. Families who do best tend to be the ones in which everyone follows the same diet.

Ask Your Doctor

1. How does my diabetes care team work?

2. What professionals will be caring for my child?

3. What do you consider good diabetes control for my child?

4. What are our goals for managing the disease?

5. When do I absolutely need to call a doctor right away? When should I take my child to the emergency room?

6. How do I reach someone for advice? What about after hours?


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Bonita Franklin, MD, clinical associate professor of pediatrics, NYU Langone Medical Center.

American Diabetes Association.

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

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