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St. E. Healthy Headlines: People with diabetes focus on blood sugar levels, for children it’s harder

By Corinne Holmes
St. Elizabeth Healthcare

People with diabetes work hard to keep their blood sugar levels steady throughout the day by balancing diet, physical activity and medication like insulin.

But for children with Type 1 diabetes, several factors can affect their blood sugar levels, and they and their parents need to plan accordingly, say the experts at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund.

Those issues include:

• Physical activity: School or youth league sports, physical education and playtime all burn calories and may lower blood sugar levels. The impact varies day-to-day, depending on how active kids are. Kids may be less active when learning a new game, for example, than when participating in sports or practice. And playing tag at recess may require more fuel than playing on the swings.

Parents and older kids need to be aware of and plan for their activity levels, either by eating extra food or taking less insulin. It’s a good idea to keep emergency snacks or glucose tablets on hand, as well. Ask PE teachers and athletic trainers to help keep an eye out for signs of low blood sugar during activity.

• Growth: Growth spurts, weight gain and hormonal changes at puberty all affect blood sugar levels and the impact will change as the child gets older. Work with your child’s diabetes care team to make sure he or she is getting the right mix of medication, food and exercise to keep their blood sugar at optimal levels.

• Stress: Stress, whether it’s caused by illness or other issues, tends to make blood sugar levels increase. If a kid is dealing with pressures at school or at home or is battling the flu or other illness, monitor his blood sugar levels and adjust accordingly.

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