Type 1 diabetes or Juvenile diabetes, as well call it commonly, is more widely present in young kids today. There are different reasons behind this widespread presence-the increasing rates of type 1 or 2 diabetes in moms enhance the risk factor of type 1 diabetes in kids; there are also research evidence that kids born to moms with gestational diabetes are at a greater risk of developing type 1 diabetes before the age of 22 and there are other genetic and environmental factors that play a role here. It’s a well-known fact that diabetes rates are increasing and gestational diabetes rates too are prominent among pregnant women which automatically affects newborn children and young kids. Such children face several problems including a daily insulin injection and avoidance of sweet treats often. This makes the kids often sulk in sadness. Who doesn’t like to eat sweet meats and treats, especially at a young age? Besides these there are also some other complications associated with type 1 diabetes in kids.
Young kids with type 1 diabetes experience extreme fluctuations in glucose levels when the developing brain undergoes maturation changes. Glucose is critical for brain development as the brain needs a constant supply of energy in the form of glucose. A study by researchers from Stanford University in the PLOS Medicine journal shows that kids with type 1 diabetes show differences in brain functioning compared to those who don’t have the disease.
The research involved 93 kids with type 1 diabetes aged 7-14 years. All of them performed a cognitive test whose results showed that both sets of kids, those in the diabetes group and control group, performed the task with equal accuracy. But there was substantial difference seen in the ways their brains were behaving. The default-mode network, the brain’s idle system of kids with diabetes was not shutting off during the task and hence to counter this, the brain’s executive network (responsible for self-regulation and concentration) was working harder than normal in kids with diabetes. Younger the age of diagnosis more pronounced was the abnormality seen in kids. Individuals who are exposed to blood-glucose level changes for a longer time experience greater alteration in brain function which can never be reversed or compensated in the later stages of the disease.
Kids are most flexible during their younger years of life-physically and mentally. Their bodies behave like rubber bands and their minds are like a clean slate in which we can fill in details that we wish-both good and bad. Their brains have the greatest potential for plasticity and repair but when diabetes levels are not corrected and brain-related problems go undetected they would be threatened to face and live with the resulting consequences in life forever. Take care to minimize the risk of type 1 diabetes in kids by taking care of yourself even before you decide to get pregnant. Optimize glucose levels, eat good food and workout to prevent gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Get in touch with nutritionists and dietitians at www.firsteatright.com who specialize in pregnancy nutrition to plan a pregnancy diet suiting your body needs.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.