These children are often reminded to watch what they eat, to keep their temptation for sweets under check, and to inject insulin at least thrice a day. Childhood for someone with a lifelong condition like Type I diabetes, earlier called as juvenile diabetes, is not a piece of cake.
The current lack of a complete cure for the condition, however, doesn’t have to stop persons from leading a normal life, getting married or pursuing a career, if the condition is managed well, assure doctors. What is more important is to detect the condition in time, to ensure better quality of life.
Taking into account that there are few studies in India pertaining to Type I diabetes, (which is uncommon compared to Type II diabetes), the Diabetes Club of Tiruchi (DCT) has launched a project to screen 20,000 children in Tiruchi district for the condition .
This follows on the heels of the inauguration of a Type I diabetes registry in February this year.
“The data obtained from the sample study can be representative of any population in India,” says N.S. Prasad, secretary, DCT. “Having a database can also help us assist persons with Type I diabetes on proper management of diabetes and better patient support.”
According to S.Dhanaraj, director, Sharon Trust, implementing agency for the project, a total of 85 schools in the Manikandam panchayat union, mostly government and aided primary and upper primary schools are enrolled in the study.
Nursing School students and volunteers from JCI will screen schoolchildren with a questionnaire listing symptoms of Type I diabetes, over the next three months. Students with suspected symptoms will undergo blood tests to confirm diabetes.
Parents watch out
As causes of Type I diabetes are yet to be pinpointed, it is not easy to prevent it. “Unlike Type II diabetes, seen generally in adults above 30, Type I diabetes does not set in gradually,” cautions diabetologist D. Bosco.
“Today, the child might be healthy, but next week it might show some symptoms .” Symptoms of Type I diabetes are easily missed by parents.
“Parents must be alert if they notice their child drinking lots of water suddenly, urinating more frequently, or eating a lot but not putting on any weight or is complaining of fatigue, often.” Type II diabetes is not a lifestyle disease and does not affect only children with a family history if diabetes.
Spotting the signs of Type I diabetes in time can help parents and children keep diabetes under control and prevent complications of the eye, kidney or heart.
Due to the stigma over the condition, Type I diabetes patients may require counselling before marriage, and also during puberty, says Dr. Ravindranath.
“Puberty is often a hard time for these children as growth hormones interact with insulin. They may require counselling and support to help them cope.”