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Diabetes: Here's How Type-1 Diabetes Affects A Child's Growth

Type-1 diabetes also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin.

Diabetes: Heres How Type-1 Diabetes Affects A Childs Growth

Family history if type-1 diabetes increases your risk of developing the condition

Growth and development are essential indicators of a child's overall health. However, the development of a child with type-1 diabetes can get hampered because of high blood glucose levels. Abnormal blood sugar levels can cause ketoacidosis, which causes acid production in the blood that can adversely affect the child's health and development. But if a child with type-1 diabetes controls the blood glucose level, their growth and development can be normal.

The longitudinal growth during childhood and adolescence represents one of the most relevant changes in the body's composition. The development of the bones occurs at different rates and depends on various complex mechanisms that involve different hormones, nutritional status, genetic and environmental factors. Several other factors modulate a child's growth, like chronic diseases. The burden of chronic diseases in children and adolescents is overwhelming.

The incidence of type-1 diabetes is increasing at an annual rate of 3-5% in children under the age of 5 years across the globe. The high incidence of type-1 diabetes in children and adolescents has posed a concern to healthcare professionals as uncontrolled blood sugar levels can alter physiological growth, and children may not attain their final expected height. Insulin regulates the expression of growth hormone- the hormone that plays a crucial role in longitudinal growth- which explains why children who had an average growth before getting diagnosed with type-1 diabetes experience growth retardation, pubertal delay, or both. The effect on growth and puberty is much more in children with poor glucose control.

Care, that parents of children with type-1 diabetes must take to ensure good physical growth of their children:

Parents must ensure certain measures for their child regularly, in association with their physician or treating doctor which include-

  • Measure the height and weight of their child regularly and plot the measurements on a growth graph
  • Monitor the blood pressure levels at least once every three months
  • Check for signs of pubertal onset and check that puberty is not delayed for them
  • Encourage the child to eat nutritiously, fiber-rich foods and enough protein and calcium
  • Ensure that the child gets exposed to sunlight
  • Encourage the child to exercise regularly
  • Also ensure close follow up with your doctor to maintain blood sugars within range as much as possible

Parents of children with diabetes must ensure that the blood glucose levels of their children are under control to avoid long-term complications. Also stay in constant touch with your doctor.

(Dr. Deepthi Kondagari, MD, DNB Endocrinology, Consultant Endocrinologist, Endorheuma Care, DilSukhnagar & Ecil, Hyderabad)

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