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Question:

I am not a diabetic, but I have a few questions. I have a friend whose sister has Down's Syndrome. She is eight years old. Recently I learned that doctors in the past could tell if one had diabetes by their breath. I've noticed that she has a fruity smell from her breath. I thought at first it was candy or something, but it wasn't. I've noticed this more than once. She does drink a lot and in the last month gained 5 pounds. I was wondering if this could mean she has diabetes? How would one test for diabetes?

Answer:

The concern you show for your friend's sister is very touching. You are correct that diabetes is more common in children with Down's Syndrome. The "fruity odor" to the breath which you refer to is from the smell of ketones which are produced in uncontrolled diabetes. This is usually a rather late sign, and the child should be losing weight, not gaining weight if this odor is from ketones.

If you are concerned that this child may have some symptoms of diabetes (drinking a lot), a simple urine test for sugar and ketones can make the diagnosis or rule it out in most cases. You might to discuss with your friend your concern about the symptoms and ask your friend if he/or she knows that diabetes is more common in people with Down's Syndrome and whether or not the sister has been tested recently. Your friend could then discuss the matter with his/her mother.

TGL

Original posting 15 Mar 97

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:54
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