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In people with Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not make insulin (a hormone that helps the body use sugar for energy). Type 1 diabetes was once called juvenile diabetes because most patients are in childhood or adolescence when they are diagnosed.
Type 1 diabetes develops from a combination of factors: First, a genetic predisposition must be present. Then, at some point in a person's life, an exposure to a common viral illness or other environmental cause will trigger the body’s immune system to attack its own beta cells (cells in the pancreas that make insulin), destroying their ability to make insulin. Nothing can be done to prevent this from happening.
Without insulin, the cells cannot use sugar for energy. As an alternative, the body will begin to break down fat for energy, flushing out sugar through the urine. For this reason, people with Type 1 diabetes often experience the following symptoms:
If your child is showing symptoms of Type 1 diabetes, a doctor can use the following blood tests to make a diagnosis:
Research shows a link between Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. Some studies suggest that children with Type 1 diabetes are more likely to be diagnosed with celiac disease. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), about 3 to 8 percent of people with Type 1 diabetes will have biopsy-confirmed celiac disease. Celiac disease associated with diabetes is usually silent, showing no symptoms, and may only be found upon screening. Like Type 1 diabetes, celiac disease is also an autoimmune disease. At Riley at IU Health, your child will be screened for celiac disease approximately every two years. If your child has an elevated antibody level for celiac disease, he or she will be referred to the Gastroenterology Department for further evaluation.
Treatment for Type 1 diabetes includes:
By carefully following your child's diabetes management plan—which includes balancing food, insulin, physical activity and stress—your child can keep his or her blood sugar levels within a target range and live a normal, healthy life.
Visit the links below to learn more about Type 1 diabetes and discover support groups and resources.
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
The official website of the American Diabetes Association provides in-depth information about living with Type 1 diabetes and connects patients and families to local American Diabetes Association offices and events.
This federally funded program is working to improve treatment and outcomes for people with diabetes and provides comprehensive resources about the condition on its website.
The Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana supports, educates and encourages children and teens with Type 1 diabetes.
No Limits Diabetes is a group for teens living with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes that is based in central Indiana.
The Diabetes & Endocrinology Department at Riley at IU Health is involved in multiple research studies for Type 1 diabetes. Talk to your child's doctor to learn more about these studies and find out if your child is eligible to participate in a clinical trial.