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From Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA:

I have a 2 year old son who is constantly thirsty. I am worried that he may have diabetes since my father had it and my husband's father has it. Both of our fathers have/had to take insulin every day. My doctor will not even check him, because he said when children get it, it is usually more apparent (very very sick child). Is this true or should our son be checked?


It is unlikely that your son has diabetes. First of all, the most probable form of diabetes in the two fathers is what is called Type 2. There are actually several specific subdivisions of this form of diabetes and although they may occur in the young it would be very uncommon indeed in a two year old.

If your son were to be diabetic it would most probably be the autoimmune or Type 1 form which is in turn uncommon in adults unless they have had it since childhood. In the very earliest stages of Type 1 children are not necessarily ill at all.

All a little bit confusing perhaps and if you are still anxious, you could ask your doctor to do a fasting blood sugar or even a simple urine dipstick test to see if there is any evidence of raised blood sugar or glucosuria. If the doctor doesn't want to do this, you could possibly borrow the materials from one of the grandfathers if they are accessible. Finally if you are very determined and anxious you could call 1-800-425-8361 to ask about a definitive antibody test for Type 1 Diabetes; but I really don't think that is necessary. Excessive thirst can of course sometimes occur for other reasons; but if your son is otherwise developing quite normally I think you should not be concerned about diabetes.


Additional comments from Dr. Lebinger:

It is very common for children to have symptoms of excess urination and drinking and not have diabetes. On the other hand, these are also the early warning symptoms of diabetes. If these symptoms are present it is important to have a urine test done either at your pediatrician's office or a local laboratory to test for sugar as soon as possible. If there is sugar in the urine, this needs to be further evaluated to prevent the child from developing ketoacidosis if he is in the early stages of developing diabetes. If this is negative, it is unlikely your child is developing diabetes. A urine test is simple, quick, and inexpensive. You don't even need to bring the child in, just a sample of urine. I suggest you call your pediatrician again and say that you would really like to have your child's urine tested to be reassured that this is not early diabetes.


Original posting 29 Mar 1998
Posted to Diagnosis and Symptoms


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:58
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