From near Seattle, Washington, USA:
I have a 14 year old son who was born with Down's Syndrome and developed diabetes when he was 7. I have been getting questions lately asking if children with Down's Syndrome have a greater chance of developing diabetes and also if diabetes is different in children who have Down syndrome.
My son seems to have the same difficulties as other kids in our local support group, and each of them seems to have at least one idiosyncrasy that we as parents don't expect - so I was wondering how anyone could tell if kids with DS have idiosyncrasies in common, peculiar to children with Down syndrome or very rare in children with diabetes who do not have Down Syndrome.
I was fortunate that my son developed diabetes when he was old enough to understand about the blood tests and shots, and has been willing and able to take responsibility for remembering his test kit, snacks and drinks when we go out, etc. He wakes up in the night to give himself blood tests, although I wake up to ask what his reading is and get up if it is too high or low, and can give himself shots although his dad or I check that the amount and type of insulin is correct. He is strong and healthy, and continues to learn at a good clip; since puberty he has had some real roller coaster blood sugars and of course when he catches something it's a nightmare - but so far it's nothing different from most kids with diabetes we know.
I would appreciate any information you have that is specific to children with Down syndrome (aside from the difficulties of the developmental disability).
The association between Down's and diabetes has been recognised for some time. There is a similar association with other autoimmune diseases (where the immune system attacks self) such as thyroid disorders. I have had several patients with Down's, and there's really nothing particularly different about them although their other difficulties can make management quite tricky. It sounds as if you are doing very well with your son who is able to assist with his care.
Original posting 9 Jul 1998
Posted to Other Illnesses
Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:57
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