Diabetes is a disorder characterized by high glucose levels in the blood. Many of us believe that it is only adults who can get diabetes, though the fact remains that people of any age group including infants may develop diabetes. The difference is that type 1 diabetes is more common in infants and children while adults mostly get type 2 diabetes. In a normal condition, when the infant is fed, the digestive juices break up the complex food molecules into simple sugar or glucose. This glucose thus obtained acts as the source of energy for the baby. A particular hormone named insulin produced by pancreas facilitates absorption of glucose in the body cells for energy. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the cells of the pancreas gland that produce insulin. As a result, the pancreas cannot supply enough insulin needed by the body. Thus, sugar levels rise in the blood to an unhealthy level.
Signs and Symptoms
Identification of diabetic symptoms in babies is slightly difficult because they cannot express their feelings and discomfort. Parents have to be careful about the following symptoms in children:
Frequent Urination: There is an abnormal increase in the frequency of urination and the baby's diaper has to be changed after short intervals of time. This is also known as polyuria. This is an indication that the body is trying hard to eliminate the excess amount of glucose from the bloodstream.
Change in Appetite: Even if you are feeding your baby properly from time to time, you will notice that he or she feels hungry all the time. This is because the glucose consumed is not absorbed into the cells due to lack of insulin and is not available for supplying energy. As a result, the muscles and organs of the body are deprived of energy. So, their body feels the need to eat more and gain some energy.
Excessive Thirst: You will notice that the baby constantly feels thirsty and drinks more water than usual. This is also known as polydipsia. As large volumes of water are excreted in the form of urine, the body tries to replenish it by increasing the intake of water. This is a natural response of the body to prevent dehydration.
Weight Loss: This is one of the most easily noticeable signs of diabetes in babies. The baby eats more food but still, he or she loses weight rapidly without any reasons. This happens because glucose is not metabolized properly in the body and the muscle tissues do not have adequate amount of energy supply. Thus, they start shrinking in size.
Irritable Behavior: Babies with diabetes lack energy and are tired and fatigued. However, they are unable to articulate these feelings. Therefore, they start behaving quite unusually. They cry so much that parents often find it difficult to console them.
Diaper Rash: There is nothing wrong if a baby develops diaper rash. However, diabetic babies tend to have chronic diaper rashes that refuse to heal. This happens because in diabetic patients, sores or wounds do not heal easily. Moreover a constantly wet diaper due to frequent urination, prevents the sores/wounds from healing. Baby girls tend to suffer from yeast infection that makes the diaper rash more severe, which can be identified with redness and puffiness in the area.
Diabetes in babies progresses rather rapidly. Therefore, you must take prompt action to prevent any rapid rise in the glucose levels. When you take the baby to the doctors, they will study the symptoms first. Then, diabetes is diagnosed with the help of blood and urine test. As soon as the test reports confirm diabetes, doctors start the treatment. The main aim of the treatment is to maintain safe glucose levels in the blood. For this reason, sugar levels have to be monitored from time to time with the help of a blood glucose meter. The baby needs insulin shots whose dosage and frequency are ascertained by the doctors. It can be administered either with a syringe or with the help of insulin pumps and you can do it on your own. Doctors will provide you with all necessary instructions regarding administering of the injection and you have to follow the same. Diet is another important aspect of treatment. You have to consult a nutritionist who will plan a diet for the baby and you have to feed your baby accordingly.
Diabetes in babies is quite rare. As parents, when you observe symptoms of diabetes in babies, then you are bound to feel concerned about the growth and development of the child in future. Let me tell you that with the help of timely testing of glucose levels and regular insulin injections, diabetes can be controlled properly and your little baby will grow up healthily. Do not forget to take your baby to the doctor for regular checkups.