​Paediatric Diabetes

Diabetes in children is also known as type-1 diabetes and is characterized by the pancreas’ inability to produce insulin needed to process and absorb glucose. Insulin is important for enabling glucose to enter cells in the body to provide energy to tissues and muscles. Without insulin, the glucose cannot enter body cells and remains in the blood stream, leading to high sugar levels.

In rare cases, a child may also develop type-2 diabetes, though it is more common with adults. In this disorder, insulin is produced by the pancreas, but it does not perform its function properly.

No specific cause of diabetes in children is known, though exposure to certain viruses may increase likelihood of developing this disease. In some cases, it may be an autoimmune disorder whereby the body’s own immune system may mistakenly destroy cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. People with a family history of type-1 diabetes are also at a greater risk of developing this disease.

Diabetes is a chronic disease, which means it is a long term disorder. Diagnosis of diabetes in a child can be quite overwhelming for both parents and the child. However, consistency and persistence with care and management will help your child lead a normal, active life.

Parents of a child with type-1 diabetes will start noticing the following signs and symptoms:

  • Frequent urination because of the kidneys’ response to flush out extra glucose through the urine

  • Feeling excessively thirsty

  • Weight loss as the body breaks down muscles and fats to provide energy to cells as glucose cannot enter these cells

  • Tiredness and fatigue

  • Feeling very hungry

  • Irritability

  • Blurred vision in case blood sugar level is very high​

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your child, you must consult with your child’s paediatrician immediately as early diagnosis and treatment can prevent further complications. Frequent urination or even sudden bedwetting in a child, weight loss and increased thirst are all signs that must not be taken lightly.
Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

Your child’s doctor will be able to make an initial diagnosis of paediatric diabetes based on the signs and symptoms you describe, including details of the time period since the onset of the symptoms and how often they appear.

After that, some screening tests will be requested by your child’s doctor for further diagnosis. These may include:

  • A random blood sugar test, which can be conducted at any time without the need for fasting. A blood sugar level higher than 200mg/dL indicates diabetes, regardless of when your child may have last eaten something

  • A fasting blood sugar level, whereby sugar level lower than 100mg/dL is considered normal, between 100-125mg/dL is considered pre-diabetes, while over 125mg/dL is considered diabetes

  • Glycated haemoglobin (A1C) test which indicates the average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. Ideally, this test should be done every three months to help monitor blood sugar levels

If your child has been diagnosed with diabetes, follow-up visits and regular monitoring of blood sugar levels, as recommended by your doctor, will have to be adhered to in order to enable your child’s doctor to adjust dosage of medication as required.

Our team of internationally qualified paediatric endocrinologists working with the Children’s Hospital Service Line of The Aga Khan University Hospital will map a customized approach for care, education and support for each child and his/ her family to help your child stay on a lifelong pathway to health.​

Treatment for paediatric diabetes is a life-long commitment and certain lifestyle adjustments and changes will be required to help your child live normally with this disorder. Proper and consistent care and management can help your child live as active a life as other children and do everything other children can do. 

Frequent monitoring of blood sugar levels with the help of a blood glucose meter will have to be done throughout the day, often up to ten times a day. Insulin may have to be injected likewise, as per the blood sugar level reading. How much insulin your child needs will depend on the timing of meals, the types of food eaten, and his/ her activity level.

Some of the lifestyle changes will include:

  • Frequent testing of blood sugar levels

  • Eating healthy and avoiding junk food (sugary foods are alright occasionally in moderation, but blood sugar levels will have to be closely monitored and a calculated choice must be made)

  • Exercising regularly

  • Having regular meals and snacks

  • Balancing food, medication and physical activity

Children with diabetes can take part in all activities, just like normal children, as long as their blood sugar levels are frequently monitored. Blood sugar levels must also be checked before and after any physical activity. .

Discuss the treatment and management of diabetes in your child in detail with the doctor, who will assist you in helping your child lead a normal life, doing everything a child does.​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

​​The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.