From San Luis, Argentina:
I have a one year old daughter and I want to know the symptoms of diabetes.
I am assuming that your daughter has no first degree relatives with Type 1 Diabetes and that as far as you can tell she is in good health; but that some unrelated event has triggered your anxiety about this condition. Perhaps the first thing to say then is that this would be a rare event. The average annual incidence of Type 1 Diabetes in a Caucasian population from birth to age 18 is somewhere around 12 per 100,000 per year. It can be somewhat higher or lower depending on where you live (e.g., it is higher in Scotland). When you add to this the fact that the new onset rate at one year of age is significantly less than at the peak in later childhood, you can see that the chance of your little daughter getting diabetes at this time is of the order of one in 15,000 per year.
If you are particularly anxious about this possibility, you could talk to your pediatrician about getting HLA testing done. It requires only a very small amount of blood and might even be managed from a filter paper spot like neonatal tests. It doesn't absolutely define the risks of getting Type 1 diabetes and it might cost as much as US$150 to get it done. It might also show that she carries a gene that protects her against diabetes.
Having said all this about how unlikely Type 1 diabetes is at this age, it does sometimes occur. The symptoms and signs are not much different from those in later childhood; that is, thirst, frequent urination, failure to gain weight, colicky abdominal pain. Also, and, as at any time, the symptoms may be those of some intercurrent infection such as gastro-enteritis or otitis media that has triggered the actual onset of clinical diabetes.
The diagnosis ultimately depends on finding sugar in the urine or an elevated fasting blood sugar. The above events can occur for all sorts of reasons other than diabetes; but if you are worried your pediatrician can at least show you how to test for sugar in the urine.
If a sibling or you or your spouse have Type 1 diabetes, the position is a rather different and instead of waiting for possible signs of diabetes you should talk to your pediatrician about getting antibodies measured because there are now possibilities for delaying the clinical stage.
This is was intended to reassure you about a very unlikely event: I hope it did.
Original posting 6 Jan 97
Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:52
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