Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes – What You Need to Know

Type 1 juvenile diabetes is a serious health condition that can lead to severe health complications if not diagnosed and treated properly. Type 1 juvenile diabetes "is a medical term referring to insulin dependent diabetes or type 1 diabetes in childhood" (1).

The name juvenile diabetes was at one time synonymous with type 1 diabetes; however, this association can no longer be exclusive as it has now been shown that type 1 can develop in adults (typically before 30 years of age) and type 2, which was once thought of as only an adult disease, has become more common in children and teens.

Cause of type 1 juvenile diabetes

This type of diabetes occurs as a result of the autoimmune destruction of beta cells in the pancreas. Because of this destruction the body of a type 1 diabetic is no longer able to produce insulin.

Though the cause is not fully understood, it has been shown that the development of type 1 diabetes may be linked to genetics and there may also be environmental factors that lead to the expression of the disease in an individual.

Symptoms of type 1 juvenile diabetes

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes may develop quickly and may include: feeling fatigued, very thirsty and hungry. Even though hunger may be increased, a person with this condition may experience unexplainable weight loss.

Other symptoms may include: more frequent urination, blurred vision and a loss of feeling or a tingling sensation in the feet. Still others may experience heavy or labored breathing, a fruity or sweet smell to their breath and nausea.

Diagnosis of type 1 juvenile diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed through the following blood tests:

  1. Fasting blood glucose level. A finding higher than 126 mg/dL (7mmol/l) on two occasions may indicate diabetes.
  2. Random (non-fasting) blood glucose level. A finding higher than200 mg/dL (11mmol/l) along with symptoms may indicate diabetes.
  3. Oral glucose tolerance test. A finding higher than 200 mg/dL (11mmol/l) after 2 hours may indicate diabetes.
  4. Hemoglobin A1c test. A finding of higher than 6.5% may indicate diabetes. A finding between 5.7% and 6.4% may indicate pre-diabetes.

Treatment of type 1 juvenile diabetes

Because insulin producing cells are destroyed in type 1 diabetes, a life-long supplementation of insulin is needed for survival.

Insulin can be administered as injections under the skin. Some patients receive insulin via an insulin pump that offers a continuous supply of insulin throughout the day.

Children and young adults with type 1 diabetes should maintain a steady diet and try to eat about the same time each day to help regulate their blood sugar. Being consistent with blood sugar monitoring and getting regular exercise may also help in the management of this disease.

(1) Wikipedia (2009). Juvenile diabetes mellitus. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juvenile_diabetes_mellitus

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