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What parents need to know about childhood diabetes

How well do you know the signs and symptoms?

Optum, childhood diabetes, pediatrician, endocrinologist

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 200,000 people under the age of 20 suffer from diabetes. Dr. Jill  Brodsky, a board certified Pediatric Endocrinologist for Optum, shares her insight on diabetes in children.

Why is diabetes on the rise?
“Pediatric diabetes is generally Type 1, but we are starting to see Type 2 diabetes in children,” says Dr. Brodsky. The major factor of this increase is how much our lifestyle has changed over the years. We now favor fast food and video games over home cooked meals and family walks. Conversely, Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that cannot be prevented. The goal with these patients is to transition them from injected insulin to an insulin pump, which makes administering insulin more convenient. Insulin pumps also help to dramatically improve quality of life for children with Type 1 diabetes.

READ MORE: 5 easy alternatives to sugary snacks

What are the signs?
If you notice an increase in thirst and urination in your child, get to your pediatrician right away. “Peeing a lot at night and bed wetting (especially after your child has been dry through the night for a long period of time), are glaring signs that you need to take your child to their pediatrician for an endocrinologist referral,” says 
Dr. Brodsky. Other signs and include: unexplained weight loss, blurred vision, and fatigue.

How does diet play a role?
According to 
Dr. Brodsky, her goal for children with Type 2 diabetes is to attain a healthy body weight, which often times allows them to reduce or stop their medication and use lifestyle as their new “medication.” However, those with Type 1 diabetes will always need insulin to control their diabetes as their body cannot properly digest carbohydrates. Although Type 1 diabetes is not linked to obesity, Dr. Brodsky nutritional goal for a child with Type 1 diabetes is a healthy diet that she would want any healthy child to consume. “A perfect meal for any child to attain a healthy weight would include a serving of grilled, baked, or broiled lean protein such as chicken, a serving of brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or other high fiber grain, a serving of vegetables without butter, and a glass of water or low-fat milk,” says Dr. Brodsky.

Should I exercise?
“Exercise makes bodies more sensitive to insulin,” says 
Dr. Brodsky. “For people with Type 2 diabetes, exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity, aids in weight loss, and is extremely beneficial.”  For children with Type 1 diabetes, exercise can improve their cardio vascular health and regulate weight. “When children with Type 1 diabetes exercise, their insulin seems more powerful than usual because their body becomes more sensitive to it, so they must constantly monitor their blood sugar levels and adjust their dosage,” says Dr. Brodsky. For patients with Type 1 diabetes, Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM) may aid in blood glucose monitoring and are very helpful in aiding patients regulate their blood sugar levels during exercise.

Dr. Jill Brodsky is a board certified Pediatric Endocrinologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and other hormonal disorders.  She practices with Optum in the Poughkeepsie location.

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