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Ask Doctor Cory.

Dear Dr. Cory:

I'm a mother of a five-year-old girl who has been newly diagnosed with diabetes. This is a very hard adjustment for her and the family. What we need is your help to educate people about this chronic disease that can strike any family.
Roxanne Reed
Parrotsville, Tennessee

Dear Ms. Reed:

Thank you for your timely letter. The American Diabetes Association defines type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes as "a disease which results from the body's failure to produce insulin--the hormone that unlocks the cells of the body and allows glucose to enter and fuel them.

"Type 1 diabetes is most often the result of an autoimmune process in which the body's immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Since glucose cannot enter the cells, it builds up in the blood, and the body's cells literally starve to death. People with type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections and regularly monitor blood sugar levels."

Although usually diagnosed in childhood, type 1 diabetes can strike adults as well. Today, about 123,000 children and teenagers in the United States have diabetes. The risk of developing type 1 diabetes is higher than other severe chronic diseases in childhood.

Type 1 diabetes usually appears suddenly and progresses quickly, especially in young children. Type 1 diabetes can be life-threatening if not recognized and treated promptly. Flu-like symptoms can occur in children with type I diabetes.

In the past, children with diabetes usually had type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, characterized by the body's ineffective use of insulin, was associated more with aging and obesity and infrequently seen in children.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of children and teenagers with type 2 diabetes. About 40 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 19 who were recently diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Severe obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Although diagnosed in children as young as 5 years old, the average age of children with type 2 diabetes ranges from 13 to 14 years old. Children who have type 2 diabetes tend to come from families where the parents are also obese and have type 2 diabetes.

If readers are concerned about the risk for diabetes in their children or in other family members, they should consult their local health practitioner. To diagnose diabetes, a professional lab runs a blood sugar test. Blood test results from a meter in a doctor's office are not sufficient.

For further information, you may contact the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation at 1-800-533-CURE, or visit its Web site at You can call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-342-2383, or visit its Web site at

With education, support, medication, and good nutrition, this chronic disease is manageable.


Cory SerVaas, M.D.

Type 1 Diabetes

Some warning signs include:

* excessive and frequent urination (a child who has been previously toilet-trained might start wetting his pants during the day and night; a baby will need wet diapers changed almost constantly and may also have a persistent yeast infection)

* weight loss, despite constant hunger and eating (or sometimes there is a loss of appetite with decreased eating)

* young children show signs of not growing and not gaining weight

* excessive thirst

* weakness and fatigue

* irritability

Do you have a question about your child's health? Send it to: "Ask Doctor Cory" Humpty Dumpty's Magazine P.O. Box 567 Indianapolis, IN 46206

Or e-mail your questions to:

This column is not intended to replace the advice of your physician.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:SerVaas, Cory
Publication:Humpty Dumpty's Magazine
Date:Oct 1, 2001
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