Type 1 diabetes in children - any advice


 My son (aged 10) has recently been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. All came a bit out of the blue, but in hindsight, if we'd known the symptons, we might have seen it coming a bit earlier.

Luckily he is very sporty (loves football, x-country, tennis etc) and has always eaten healthily - he doesn't like sweets, cake, chocolate etc so that also helps.  Just wondered if there are any other parents out there who've been dealing with it for a bit longer and have any advice, suggestions on managing a kid's very energetic and sporty lifestyle with diabetes.  So far he's doing as well as can be expected I think, as  his sugar levels are well down from the 30s (45 when first diagnosed!), but we're still trying to get the balance right with snacks in between sport, school PE, meals etc  ....


  • Capricorn,

    I am Type 1 but slightly older than your son(about 34 years older). IMHO what to do is work on getting his balance sorted first then introduce the sports. If he can get himself sorted first he will have more awareness of his own body and how he is reacting to his sugar levels.  Not saying give up his sports for good but I'd give it say 3-months or so (maybe longer if need be) to get him settled then introduce things slowly. Regular testing before, during (if possible) and after exercise will indicate how he is coping. The important thing is to keep topping up his sugar levels every 20 mins or so of exercise with some lucozade or other sports type drink. 

    I am sure there will be experts that can give better and probably more accurate advice.

    As I said I am type 1 and I have just done my 6th marathon. No reason for it to impact on his sports.

  • A friends son was diagnosed at the age of 7, he has just gone off to Uni aged 18, I know they found the Diabetes UK very helpful.

    I also remember it was a really emotional time for all of them as they got things straight. 

    All the best 


  • i've just sent an email direct to you.

    and i'll forward your details onto my wife, she deals with the numbers and carb counting a lot more than me. and might be of help.

    the insulin dependant trust are also a good starting point, and shes also found an american chat site which is nice, they do things slightly differently and generally use pumps but its all nice to know about.

    the oxford Radcliffe team have been great for us....your local team in time will no doubt put you in contact with others local to you.

    we have a 5 year old boy (6 next month) who has had type 1 since he was 3. try not to beat yourself up about food diet and all the +rap you hear about on telly. blaming the parents fault for bad diets, thats generally a type 2. issue or just old age but the telly never mentions type 1 or type 2. they just say diabetes which really anoys us......

    you also have to remember, that insult rate can vary with mood, weather, growth hormoan,,,

    so even if you gave them the same food day in day out and same excercise every day the blood sugar levels will still change....

    great about your son not liking sugary stuff....BUT you'll find he sometimes will have to have some though...my son steven had never had a sticky sweet or chocolate until he became type1.

    when a diabetic has a hypo (goes blood sugar low) one of the fastest ways to get sugar into them is lucozade sport, or if you have more time a boiled lolly... (yep you get carb gels but they taste really nasty we've been told. Steven when he goes to football practice on saturdays (under 7s team) has regular sips of luc. sport to stop his levels dropping...as you know if they drop to much, mood/temper changes and loss of balance, and on one occasion years ago, he didn't even know who i was and i had to hold him whilst my wife poored a drink into his mouth, he'd had a good breakfast, the usual insulin amount but he was all excited and just burnt more sugar than normal....

    does your son like cheese....yeh odd question...but apart from the fat content its hand as its an easy snack with zero carbs.....

    we once even found a food label that had the carbs/100 content wrong on the label contacted them and said they would update the info in time...but it wasn't important.....hey it is if you have to carb count....


  • Thanks Paul - I'll reply to your email.  My son is with the Royal Berks (children's) diabetes clinic in Reading - and they have been brilliant, but it's also nice to hear from other parents about what works and doesn't work.  We've also just joined Diabetes UK, and it looks great too - all the literature and info.

    Paul - sadly my son doesn't like cheese, which is a pity, because he's very small as well and the dietician said not to skimp on protein - and cheese would be ideal.  We also find his sugar levels changing weirdly for no obvious reason, which makes it hard to figure out what we're doing wrong !

    Drobton - thanks too, nice to hear how everyone just gets on with it.

  • Been on holiday, so a late joiner to this thread. I have had type 1 diabetes for 31 years now.

    Sugar levels do change wierdly for all sort of reasons - I have a bit of a thing about people calling it Diabetic control - i think balance is a much better term - as its more like being on a boat, judging where to go next according to tide/weather/etc than driving a car  . . .

    I have really struggled to exercise, especially as I was not encouraged to do so as a child (back in the days of twice daily insulin and urine testing only). It is easier to keep good control i think if you do regular exercise, but i'm afraid the key is regular - the effect wears off for me after 48hrs or so. When I do go out running I carry jelly babies (10 carbs per baby) and a testing machine with me, and test after every 15 minutes. I hope to reduce the frequency of tesing eventually.

    I pretty much ran my own diabetes by age 10.

    Can your son cook? It will make life easier for him if he can, because it makes guessing the carb content of stuff easier. And remeber that lots of protien/fat in a meal will slow down carb release.

    The two books i got when deciding to start exercising were Type 1 diabetes in children, adolescents and young adults by Dr Ragnar Hanas (which didn't really tell me anything new, but I think would be good for a beginner) and The Diabetic Athlete by Sheri Colberg.

    Oh, and don't exercise if any ketones in urine or blood sugar above 15.

  • Thanks Mellitus. The diabetic nurse who keeps an eye on him wants us to move to carb-counting eventually as way of determining the insulin dosage, but it's still early days. I do also need to get myself (all of us really) more clued up on food combining in order to get the low GI/slow carb release effect.   He's just had his first day with his blood sugar below 7 all day, so we're very pleased !

    btw - why do you say not to exercise if sugar > 15 or ketones present?

  • With my 5 year old, we tried the jabs per day, but it just didn't work out for us, so ended up carb counting..

    we have an address book that we keep food items and carbs in.....ie carbs in a fish finger, etc etc.

    in cases we eat out....

    Keytones found is an indicator that your body is burning fat instead of glucose for energy. This happens when there is not enough insulin available to use glucose for energy. Keytones is more common in type 1 diabetes

    (a runner would know this as the common phrase...."hitting the wall", when you burn fat etc....)

    did you email my boss.....errr i mean the wife,,,,shes read a few books as well as dealing with stevens numbers daily and did email you the other day...her email address starts off "beanee"


    steve sometimes does his own injections the nurses gave him a certificate when he did his first one, its on his bedroom wall,,,,it was really funny, he said,,,,mummy your not any good at giving injections i want to do it tonight,,,,,we held the pen so it didn't jump out of his leg and he pushed the button down..

    one of my managers sons here is also type1, just started secondard school had a little battle getting a clean place for the injections to be done at school, orignally the school wanted him to inject in the boys loos.....after 2 months, was changed to the nurses office.....

    have your diabetes team been into the school yet, and trained them up? might be early days yet

    superb news about the 7.

  • Not trying to scare you or bore you with science but . . . .

     Ketones are produced by the body as waste when it cannot get energy the normal way - i.e. if you haven't eaten for ages or there is not enough insulin in your body to transport glucose across the cell wall. In normal people it never goes very high, but in type one diabetics the levels can go very high and that is partly what used to kill diabetics pre-insulin. Ketones are acids, so make blood very acidic and life can only be supported within a narrow band around a neutral point. Also, being ketotic can lead to dehydration - which also kills. This generally only happens with high glucose levels (and has a characteristic smell) but can also happen with fairly normal blood sugar levels as it is the lack of insulin that is the problem, not the high blood sugar level.

    If you exercise with ketones in your system, then the body doesn't have enough insulin but demands more glucose in the cells - leading to more ketone production. And exercise makes you dehydrated . . .

    Good news is that generally this all takes a bit of time - but I managed to go from normal to Resus in less than 24hrs once, through vomiting my guts out. Don't recommend it.

    The advice not to exercise above 15 or with ketones is the advice from the american diabetic association.

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