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60+ minutes Outside regular
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Bismarck

Sanford Downtown Walk-in Clinic
Serving all ages
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Sanford North Walk-in Clinic
Serving all ages
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Sanford Children's Walk-in Clinic
Serving children
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Minot


Sanford Health Walk-in Clinic
Serving all ages
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Can I prevent my child from developing diabetes?


Christina
daSilva, MD
First, there are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is caused by immune damage to the cells that make insulin in the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes is sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes.

There is no known cause of Type 1 diabetes. Research is ongoing, but Type 1 diabetes is not yet preventable. Type 2 is caused by resistance to insulin. In other words, the patient may have more insulin in the blood but the cells do not respond to insulin as well. This type used to be rare in children, but with climbing obesity among children, it is becoming more common. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented with weight control, exercise and eating a healthy diet.

How would I know if my child develops diabetes?

In children, symptoms develop more quickly and become more pronounced than in adults. Common symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, hunger and urination, nausea, vomiting, unexplainable fatigue and/or weight loss.

As excess sugar builds up in a child's bloodstream, fluid is pulled from the tissues. Thirst, and subsequently more urination, is the result. Weight loss occurs because muscle and fat stores are depleted since the cells cannot utilize energy or glucose the normal way. If your child exhibits any of the symptoms, make an appointment with a doctor immediately.

Tests your doctor may order to evaluate the child for the possibility of diabetes include looking at the urine for glucose, fasting glucose level, insulin level, hemoglobin A1C (looks at the average glucose level in the body over the past two to three months) or an oral glucose challenge test.

Are certain children more likely to develop diabetes?

Children with Type 1 diabetes are more likely to develop the condition if there is a family history for Type 1 diabetes. The development of Type 1 diabetes is due to autoimmune destruction against the pancreas after an exposure.

Possible exposures include certain viruses, low vitamin D levels, parts of the diet and toxins. Children with Type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop the condition if they are overweight, inactive or if there is a family history for Type 2 diabetes.

What are the complications of diabetes?

Diabetes can negatively affect nearly every major organ in your child's body. The more common long-term complications include damage to the nervous system, kidneys and blood vessels of the eye. Children with diabetes are at increased risk of thyroid problems and celiac disease. If your child does have either type of diabetes, it's essential that the disease be well managed. You will need a doctor to coordinate and oversee your child's care.

Dr. Christina daSilva is a pediatrician at Sanford Children’s Downtown Clinic in Bismarck. She is a Bismarck native. Dr. daSilva received an undergraduate degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., and a medical degree at Des Moines University. She completed her pediatric residency training at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa.)

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