A parent's guide from birth to five

Common childhood illnesses & wellbeing



Recognising and managing

Diabetes is a life-long condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body’s way of converting glucose into energy is not working as it should. However, with careful management, children with diabetes can continue to lead full, healthy and active lives.

Type 1 diabetes usually develops in childhood. If left untreated, it can result in very serious health problems. Early diagnosis of the condition can prevent emergency hospitalisation. If parents, carers and childminders know the symptoms it can be spotted and treated early on. Symptoms can come on quickly. Go immediately to your GP if you are worried.

Type 1 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in children, however type 2 diabetes is now on the rise. This is caused by a poor diet, lack of exercise and being overweight (see childhood obesity).

Managing type 1 diabetes

Children with type 1 diabetes need treatment for their whole life. Everyone in the family needs to learn about it as managing it will affect the whole family. You'll be taught how to recognise, prevent and treat hypoglycaemia, (or hypos), when your child's blood sugar level drops too low and they have symptoms such as shakiness, sweating, tiredness, headaches or behaviour changes.


GP says

It’s important to know the signs:

  • Urinating much more than usual.
  • Being thirsty and wanting to drink all the time.
  • Feeling really tired, and wanting to go to sleep all the time.
  • Losing weight for no apparent reason.

Other signs:

  • Itchiness or soreness from urine.
  • Vision can blur.
  • If they get a cut it seems to take a long time to heal.

Source: www.diabetes.org.uk

Early days

Straight after diagnosis, you and your child should be introduced to a specialist diabetes care team. Your care team may include, among others:

  • A consultant paediatrician who specialises in diabetes.
  • A children's diabetes specialist nurse.
  • A dietitian who is familiar with the needs of children.
  • A psychologist with a speciality in children.

Once they have had their first treatment in hospital, you will be confident enough to manage your child's diabetes at home. You will still be in regular touch with your diabetes care team.


My toddler, who has been dry at night has started wetting the bed and drinking more than usual.


Consider diabetes, although it may be due to a number of things.


Take your child to see the GP.