Why children are more prone to diabetes

by Rose Carmelle Lacuata, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Aug 07 2015 12:36 AM | Updated as of Aug 07 2015 08:58 AM

MANILA -- Children are now more prone to diabetes due to changes in diet and technology.

In an interview on DZMM's "Magandang Gabi Dok," Dr. Susana Campos, a pediatric endocrinologist, explained the kinds of diabetes that can affect children.

Just like in adults, diabetes in children are classified in two: Type I and Type II.

Type I diabetes is developed when the body attacks the pancreas, causing it to stop producing insulin, the hormone that regulates the blood sugar level.

"Nasisira talaga 'yung pancreas, and the pancreas is the organ that makes insulin. So there is auto-immune... parang naguguluhan 'yung katawan natin, 'yung immune system natin ina-attack 'yung pancreas, thinking that it is foreign, so nasisira talaga 'yung pancreas at hindi na makagawa ng insulin," Campos said.

Type II diabetes, on the other hand, occurs when the pancreas produces insufficient amount of insulin.

"Either konti lang ang nagagawang insulin, o nadedelay ang release ng insulin relative to the rise in blood sugar, and that is more commonly seen in very overweight or obese children," Campos said.

Type II diabetes is more common in children, especially since a lot of Filipinos consider a child's weight as a sign of good health. Some parents and other relatives also tend to bring food and other sweet treats as "pasalubong" for their children.

Watching fast food and candy commercials on television, as well as the Western diet of fast food also increases the risk of diabetes in children.

"Kasi kapag nanonood ng TV, lahat ng nakikita nila, masarap," Campos said.

Symptoms

Type I diabetes is an auto-immune disease, and it can affect children as young as six months old. Children also tend to lose weight due to their bodies' inability to recognize sugar or glucose.

"Dahil sa kawalan ng kakayahang gumawa ng insulin, nangangayayat 'yung mga 'yun," Campos said.

"Ang cells nila nag-starve, hindi kasi makapasok... insulin kasi is like the key that opens each cell, the door of each cell so that the glucose can come in," she added.

Type I diabetics also tend to get very thirsty and urinates often, causing them to lose more weight. Some may also suffer from other conditions such as shortness of breath, as the body would convert protein and fat to sugar. The body would then produce acids, which causes the child to have difficulty in breathing.

Unlike Type I diabetics, Type II diabetics are overweight. They also tend to drink lots of water and urinate often. Since their bodies do not produce enough insulin to process the blood sugar in the body, some tend to consume too much sugar, causing them to gain more weight. Type II diabetics also tend to develop resistance to insulin.

Treatment

Both types of diabetics need insulin shots to regulate their blood sugar level. However, since the patients are children, administering and monitoring blood sugar levels may be a bit difficult.

"If you're Type I diabetic, you need to be on insulin. There is no other way of treating that except through insulin injection. Remember we said, you have destroyed your pancreas. So you have to give insulin," Campos said.

"It's more difficult for children because feeding is not regular, and there can be a drop in blood sugar levels at different times," she added.

The best way to lessen the risk of diabetes in children is breastfeeding.

"Mother's milk self regulates. Sometimes it is watery, it depends on the baby's needs," Campos said, adding that formula milk has a lot of sugar, and encourages the development of the "sweet tooth."

Campos also advised parents from rewarding their child's good behavior with candies and sweets, so as to control their craving for sugar.

She also advised parents to feed their children in moderate amounts so as not to deprive their children, and to lessen their risk of diabetes.