Diabetes! You got to be kidding.

It is not exactly a lifestyle issue. Nor does it spread through human contact or viruses. Nevertheless, it is raging ahead, disrupting lives of many children, making them dependent on syringes and pumps for insulin.

Juvenile or type-I diabetes, which forces dependency on insulin, is on a rapid rise in the city.

It is only when parents consult doctors after noticing symptoms like sudden weight loss, frequent urination, restlessness, fatigue, increased hunger and thirst in their child, that this dark truth stems out.

Dr Sharath Chandran from a diabetes centre, Diabetacare, says many children and adolescents are getting detected, “some as young as a few months, to those in their late teens.”

Doctors say that unlike type-II diabetes, which generally strikes during adulthood and is a consequence of lifestyle reasons like obesity, juvenile diabetes does not have any particular lifestyle causes.

“It is usually owing to the destruction of the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. But why exactly does this happens to some kids is not really known,” says Dr Anjana Hulse, paediatric endocrinologist from Apollo Hospital.

However, if one parent has type-I diabetes, chances of the child being a juvenile diabetic are high, says Dr Hulse.

Challenges for kids

Furthermore, the ailment hampers social and emotional well-being of children to a certain extent, say doctors.

“The child has to be cautious of his or her sugar levels, since they can experience very high or low sugar. And control their diets. All this requires lot of preparations and acceptance, specially on the part of the child,” says
Dr Hulse.

Deepa Lokhande, a diabetes educator in the city, says counselling and confidence-building are important among children.

“Since it calls for insulin, helping them overcome needle phobia and training them to take their insulin shots is crucial as it involves specified areas for taking insulin, right time etc.”

Meanwhile, parents say being diagnosed with juvenile diabetes affects children in every possible way, right from playing, eating, school, friends to birthday parties and so on.

Diet restrictions at a tender age

Madhu L, mother of a 14-year-old diabetic boy in the city, says, though her son has accepted his ailment, there are times when he broods as he cannot eat everything like his friends do.

“Initially, it was really tough to convince him that insulin is good for him and he needs to take it regularly. He would often ask why his friends don’t take it.”

While Prakash Kumar, father of a 15-year-old diabetic boy, says monitoring if the child has taken insulin on time during the school and tuition hours is difficult.

“My son has to be physically active to control his diabetes. With increasing studies and tuitions, it is not always possible to find time for exercises,” says Prakash.