When your child has diabetes, the body does not produce or respond to insulin, the hormone that breaks down sugar and carbohydrates into energy. This leads to high levels of glucose in the blood. Diabetes mellitus is the most common form of diabetes and there are two types:
- Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune condition. The body attacks its own cells in the pancreas until they can no longer produce insulin. If left untreated or not well managed, the extra sugar in the blood can damage blood vessels in the eyes, nerves and kidneys and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. The only treatment for Type 1 diabetes is insulin replacement.
- Type 2 Diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or cannot make enough insulin to keep sugar levels normal. Type 2 diabetes often affects children who are obese. Fat, liver and muscle cells can become insulin resistant. Treatments include weight management, proper nutrition and exercise. If blood sugar levels are high enough, insulin is a first-line treatment.