Although, the cause of diabetes is not known, parents of diabetic children have been advised to adopt healthy diets and ensure regular medical check-ups for them.
Dr Nwaoma Nwaogu, a consultant paediatric endocrinologist, gave the advice in an interview with Nigeria News Agency in Abuja Tuesday.
Nwaogu, a member of Ask the Paediatrician Foundation, an NGO, stressed the need to adopt these measures to avoid any complications that might arise for such children.
According to her, careful meal planning is essential for the management of diabetics, hence the need for a total nutritional overhaul for the whole family.
“The management involves careful meal planning. A family that has a diabetic child will need nutritional overhaul; balanced healthy meals at regular times with adequate fruits and vegetables.
“ So this means that the other children in the home and the entire family should eat from the same pot. Regular and balanced meals are the key word.
“Portion control is also essential as it will also prevent the child from developing depression and truancy ideas like stealing,’’ she said.
The expert also dispelled popular beliefs on the health benefits of wheat by diabetic patients, which could do more harm than good for them.
“The idea of wheat meal being beneficial is a common belief but wrong because research has shown that wheat has been involved in autoimmunity and that it has high glycaemic index, which means after a wheat meal, your blood glucose hits the roof rapidly.’’
She, further, encouraged regular eye, urine and blood pressure checks for children suffering from diabetes to prevent complications such as cardiovascular diseases, stroke, kidney failure, damage to the eyes and foot ulcers.
“The child should have regular monitoring of HbA1C, which is a blood test that estimates blood glucose levels over a period of three months and helps identify the risk of complications in the child.’’
She explained that diabetes was a lifelong condition that affected the way our bodies handled energy found in food.
“ Normally, our bodies break down carbohydrates into small blocks called glucose which acts as fuel for the cells in our bodies. Cells in our bodies can only utilise this fuel (glucose blocks) with the help of a hormone called insulin.
“ Insulin acts as a key that opens the door of the cells so that glucose goes in for its use. Insulin is produced by an organ in our bodies called the pancreas.
“ With diabetes mellitus, it’s either you do not produce insulin or the insulin is produced in insufficient quantities or the insulin produced cannot be used or a combination of all,’’ she said.
The paediatrician listed types of diabetes to include type-one, commonly found in children, which shows absolute insulin lack requiring them to use insulin for life.
She added that type-2 diabetes, mostly found in adults and adolescents but increasingly being found in children, shows only relative lack of insulin, which requires a combination of oral medications and insulin.
She further disclosed that some people might develop diabetes following an infection or inflammation of the pancreas, partial or total removal of the pancreas.
“No one really knows what causes diabetes. We do know that some people are more at risk because of the genes that they are born with.
“Something triggers the immune system to start destroying the insulin producing cells in the pancreas.’’
She, therefore, advised parents with diabetic children to ensure they used insulin, engaged in frequent glucose testing and avoided herbs or native concoctions.
She also advised that such children engaged in daily exercise and ate balanced meals.
Edited by Chukwudi Ekezie
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