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Diabetes in infants and babies

 

By Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi
Attributed to: Dr. Nashwa Bahaa El Din, Specialist – Pediatrics, Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi

 

  1. Diabetes is a newly seen problem in infants and babies. Can you throw some light on this?

Babies suffering from diabetes are on the rise. Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the body’s ability to process blood sugar. There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Typically babies will develop type 1 diabetes.

  1. What according to you can be the possible reason for these illnesses and which type of Diabetes is more prevalent in babies in this region? 

The exact cause of this illness is not yet determined; however it is presumed that the body destroys the cells that normally make insulin. When the body can’t make insulin the blood sugar levels can increase causing damage to the organs of the body.

Type 1 diabetes is more common in babies in this region and in the world.

  1. Also, according to you how serious the problem is?

Diabetes is a very common disease and might restrict who suffer from it of doing some activities. However it is manageable by taking the insulin shots regularly and by following a special diet.

  1. Is there anything parents can do before the child birth to combat things like thyroid and diabetes (any type)?

As of now there is no way no way to prevent type 1 diabetes. However, parents can manage the blood lever of their child to prevent any complications that can come along with it. Some of these complications could be kidney failure, blindness or other organ damage.

  1. How is diabetes different in babies than adults? What special things need to be addressed in case of babies?

The symptoms for babies, children and adults who suffer from diabetes are similar. Babies/ children and teens may have a harder time accepting diabetes emotionally and coping with it.

  1. How frequently do you come across such cases?

We obviously see an increase in the number of babies suffering from diabetes.

  1. Can you tell us how is it medically handled?

The best way is by giving insulin shots. Based on the baby’s condition, the doctor can advise the parents on the number of shots required.

  1. What is the medical advice for such parents whose kids are detected with diabetes type 1 or type 2?

Parents should ensure taking their baby to all of the scheduled doctor’s visits so the condition remains monitored and under control.

Apart of that, keeping the baby on a specific diet can also help control the condition. Once the baby is diagnosed, parents should speak to a nutritionist to find the right diet for the baby.

  1. Is there any other disease or disorder that you have noticed in particular in UAE babies?

Diabetes is the most common disease in UAE babies.

  1. Also, there has been an increase in number of thyroid cases in babies? Is this related to diabetes in any way?

Yes. Diabetic babies and adults have higher chances of developing thyroid disorders than those who are not diabetic.

  1. What are the particular symptoms of thyroid in babies and how can parents get to know if their child has either of the above problems (diabetes or thyroid)?

There are two types of Thyroid. Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone.

Signs of hyperthyroidism can include:

  1. Feeling jumpy and hyper
  2. Trembling hands and trouble concentrating
  3. Fast heartbeat
  4. Enlarged thyroid
  5. Sweat and sleep problems
  6. Big appetite along with weight loss
  7. Fainting

Signs of hypothyroidism can include:

  1. Low energy
  2. Looking swollen or bloated
  3. Gaining weight without increased appetite
  4. Decrease in the growth rate
  5. Muscle soreness
  6. Constipation

 

  1. What would be three most important summer advice that you would give to small babies and their parents?

There are several that I can share with parents for taking care of their summer babies. Most important one is Hygiene and cleanliness. With this heat, it is more likely for one to develop skin infections. When bathing your baby, ensure you wash all areas including underarm, neck, etc. It is also important during summer to keep the baby comfortable in loose fitting cotton clothing that lets the skin breathe.

As for the baby’s food during the summer, as long as the baby is exclusively breastfeeding, then there will be no need to give him/her water. However, if the baby is on formula, the parents might need to give him/her water in the heat.

  1. You are treating patients at most naïve age of their life. Babies are beautiful creatures but they come to you with some or the other problem. Do you think the fact that your patients are ‘babies’ adds more to your responsibility as a doctor?

Yes, of course.  As a doctor, I have a great responsibility because

  • I must deal with the kids like their mother as well as their doctor.
  • I have to give medical and psychological support based on expertise.
  • It is difficult to get trust from the parents because their kids are precious to them

As a doctor, I need deep understanding about the kids’ sensitivity, to establish the parent-child care relations.

 

Photo credit: Alex E. Proimos via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

 

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