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If Your Child Has Type 1 Diabetes—What He or She Needs To Know

How much do children need to know about their diabetes?

First, they need to know that it is not their fault that they have diabetes—nothing they could have done would have prevented it. They need to know that with help from you their healthcare providers, they can manage their diabetes and live healthy, active lives. Treatment depends on your child’s age and maturity. Some children can learn to measure and inject their own insulin by early adolescence. But it is recommended that parents and caregivers share responsibility with their children for insulin injections until puberty is over, usually by mid-adolescence.

Every child is different in his or her capacity to cope with the demands of diabetes, but all children need and deserve their parents’ help and support well into the teenage years. Before you give your child the responsibility for measuring and injecting insulin, remember that this is a serious and complex matter. Your child needs to be mature enough to handle the job, and generally, children are not capable of having sole responsibility for insulin injections until they are older adolescents.

How about checking their blood glucose? Children need to understand the rationale for regular checking, whether or not they can do these checks themselves. Most important, they need to learn the symptoms of a “low blood glucose reaction” (also called an insulin reaction) and how to take appropriate action. Later, as they begin to appreciate the overall goals of diabetes treatment, they will want to accept a greater role in their care. In fact, children quickly learn that maintaining good health is the ticket to joining their friends in every day activities.

Page last updated: April 19, 2014