Signs of Diabetes in Children

Signs of Type 1 & Type 2 Diabetes In Children

Diabetes may show itself differently in children and adults, and may differ in manifestations according to type. The signs and symptoms of diabetes may show at a more rapid pace in infants and children as compared to adults. In infants and children with type 1diabetes the rate of beta cell destruction often occurs at a more rapid pace. Ketoacidosis is the one of the signs of diabetes in children. Others may manifest modest fasting hyperglycemia or ketoacidosis especially during infections or stress.

Children with type 2 diabetes are often overweight or obese and have a history of the disease in the family. They often show physical signs of insulin resistance like dark patches of skin, medically known as acanthosis nigricans.

Signs in Children with Type 1 Diabetes

Signs and symptoms of diabetes in a child often develop quickly over a period of weeks. Children may exhibit:

  • Frequent episodes of increased thirst and urination. This is the result of excess sugar-build up in the bloodstream which pulls the fluid away from the tissues. Loss of fluid from the tissues into the blood vessels causes the child to feel thirsty. Children may want to drink more often and urinate more often than usual
  • The child may also complain of extreme hunger, which is not relieved by eating. Because the glucose from the food is not directed to cells but remains in the bloodstream, energy supply shrinks which triggers hunger.
  • Weight loss often occurs rapidly in some children due to the lack of energy supply to the body, which causes it to draw energy from its own reserves-the fat and muscle stores.
  • The child may easily get tired. Fatigue is caused by the lack of energy supply to the muscles.
  • Blurred vision is another sign which is caused by decreased fluid and blood flow to the eyes, which will affect the child’s ability to see clearly.
    Babies and young children with the condition often experience a yeast infection which often leads to a diaper rash. This is usually the first indication of Type 1 diabetes in younger children.

Signs and symptoms of Type 2 diabetes in children

Type 2 diabetes differs from type 1 in that it develops more gradually. Some children may not show any signs and symptoms at all. The following are the most common signs and symptoms of the condition:

  • The child is overweight or obese at diagnosis; obesity is the hallmark sign in type 2 diabetes
  • Presence of a family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Most children diagnosed with the condition have at least one parent who also has the disease
  • Most children may also have a close relative who has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes
  • Complaints of extreme and frequent hunger, which is caused by not enough glucose which is able to enter the cells. No matter how much food is taken in, the glucose stays in the bloodstream and is not utilized by the cells. This lack of glucose leads to depleted energy supply, which triggers hunger
  • Acanthosis nigricans, or dark patches of skin are often seen in children with type 2 diabetes, often in between the toes and on the back of the neck. The extra insulin in the blood triggers unusual skin activity, which causes the characteristic skin changes.
  • Urine tests show sugar in the urine
  • Girls may often be diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome

Children with type 2 diabetes are often at a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases. It is important to note that diabetes screening should be done on persons who manifest these signs and symptoms. Testing should be done for children as young as ten years old or at the onset of puberty.