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Volume 3, Issue 12

December 2023

Type 1 Diabetes in Children: Challenges, Effective Treatment and Complication

Abdulghani Alzamzami, Abdullatif Almarashi, Tahera Alqallaf, Alyaa Hashem, Mohammed Alshahrani, Essa Ghazwani, Mohammad Alghamdi, Bassel Alzahrani, Ziyad Iskander, Nojoud Basahal, Mohammed Alasmari

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.52533/JOHS.2023.31218

Keywords: Pediatric Type 1 Diabetes, Childhood Diabetes Management, Clinical Manifestations in Juvenile Diabetes, Insulin Therapy in Pediatric Diabetes, Comprehensive Pediatric Diabetes Care

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) in children is a growing global concern. It's an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. The development of T1D is influenced by genetic factors, such as HLA genotypes, and environmental triggers, including infections and dietary factors. Understanding these patterns is vital for public health interventions. Symptoms in children typically include increased urination, excessive thirst, and weight loss. Ongoing research aims to better understand the interaction between genetics and environment in the development of T1D. Recognizing the increasing occurrence of T1D in children, the study highlights the interaction between genetic susceptibility and environmental triggers in its development. The clinical signs range from urination and unexplained weight loss to changes posing challenges for early detection with diabetic ketoacidosis often being the first observable symptom. The discussion then shifts to contemporary management approaches for T1D, where insulin therapy plays a role. Technological advancements such as insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring systems redefine precision in administering insulin. A comprehensive management approach includes monitoring of blood glucose levels, dietary interventions, physical activity recommendations, psychological support and education that empower children and their families to manage the condition actively.


Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a condition where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas resulting in a lack of insulin (1). Although T1D can affect people of all ages it presents challenges and considerations when it involves children (2, 3). T1D is among the chronic diseases in children worldwide with increasing incidence rates. While its prevalence may vary across populations, an upward trend is observed globally. Multiple factors, both genetic and environmental contribute to this disease development process. Understanding the patterns is crucial for public health planning and interventions. The development of T1D involves a combination of susceptibility and environmental triggers (4-6). Leukocyte antigen (HLA) genotypes are often associated with an increased risk of developing T1D due to genetic predisposition (7). Environmental factors like infections and dietary influences during childhood also play a role in triggering autoimmune responses against pancreatic beta cells (6, 8). Researchers and clinicians continue to strive for an understanding of how genetics and environment interact to cause T1D. Children with T1D exhibit signs with the most prevalent ones being increased urination, excessive thirst and unexplained loss of weight (4, 9). The initial symptoms are often subtle which can result in a delay in diagnosis. In some cases, children may even experience ketoacidosis (DKA) as an indication of T1D. The way T1D appears can differ depending on the age group (10, 11). It is crucial to understand the ways it manifests in children, for timely diagnosis and intervention. After being diagnosed, 69% of children go through a temporary phase where their beta cell function improves (known as the honeymoon period) due to insulin therapy. During this time, they require insulin. However, within 12 months of diagnosis 90% of children no longer experience this phase. As a result, parents need to adjust to a T1D routine and the changing needs of their child’s body. Young children also become more sensitive to insulin and more prone to hypoglycemia. May face long term effects on their cognitive abilities due to challenges in meeting treatment goals and the duration of the disease. Diagnosing T1D in children involves assessing their symptoms, measuring blood glucose levels and identifying diabetes related autoantibodies (12, 13). HbA1c levels and oral glucose tolerance tests also play a role in diagnosing T1D in kids, ensuring reliable identification. Constant advancements in technologies help us detect T1D on allowing for prompt management strategies. Managing T1D in children involves aspects such as insulin therapy, dietary adjustments and lifestyle modifications. Insulin remains the mainstay of treatment for T1D through injections or insulin pumps (14). Recent progressions in insulin formulations and delivery methods aim to improve control while minimizing treatment burden. Additionally, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems provide real time data to guide insulin adjustments empowering both children and their caregivers to achieve outcomes. It's important not to underestimate the impact of T1D on children, as managing a condition can affect their emotional well-being, social interactions and family dynamics. Peer support, interventions and actively involving children in making decisions about their diabetes care can help them overcome the social difficulties associated with T1D (15). This support system fosters. Promotes a mindset. Although there have been advancements in managing T1D, it is crucial to remember that children still face the risk of chronic complications. Maintaining blood sugar levels throughout childhood and adolescence is vital to minimize the chances of hypoglycemia and DKA as well as long-term microvascular and macro-vascular complications. It is crucial for T1D care to understand the changing complexities and implement strategies to prevent and intervene early. This review covers aspects of T1D in children, including its epidemiology, causes, presentation, diagnostic methods and modern management approaches. Healthcare professionals, researchers and policymakers must acknowledge the evolving nature of T1D in populations. Ongoing research, technological advancements, and a holistic approach to care all enhance our knowledge and refine the management of T1D in children. Ultimately, we aim to achieve outcomes and a better quality of life for those affected by this condition. This study aims to provide an overview of the challenges faced in T1D management among children as effective treatments and potential complications.


T1D in children requires attention for early detection and intervention. From increased urination and excessive thirst to changes in behavior and frequent infections, it is crucial to understand these signs. Timely diagnosis can be challenging as the initial symptoms may be subtle. It plays a role in preventing serious complications like diabetic ketoacidosis (16). Healthcare professionals and caregivers need to recognize the ways T1D can manifest in children to ensure management, minimize complications, and optimize the overall well-being of affected kids (17). In terms of treatment, taking an approach to T1D in children involves strategies. Insulin therapy is at the core of management. Has evolved with advancements such as insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems that offer precision and flexibility. Regular monitoring of blood glucose levels, dietary management, physical activity, emotional support and education are all parts of care. These approaches empower children and their families to actively participate in their healthcare journey fostering confidence and a sense of control over the condition.

Clinical Manifestation

T1D in children can present with a range of signs that are important to recognize early on. This enables healthcare professionals, caregivers and educators to promptly diagnose the condition and provide management. It is crucial for them to understand these signs in order to intervene in a manner that prevents complications and ensures the overall well-being of affected children. One common sign is urination (polyuria). Increased thirst (polydipsia). When insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed glucose levels become unregulated, resulting in urine production and an intense feeling of thirst (18). Parents often notice their child urinating frequently and constantly feeling thirsty which can be indications of diabetes. Children with T1D may experience weight loss despite having a normal or increased appetite. Since the body cannot effectively utilize glucose without insulin it starts breaking down muscle and fat for energy. Parents may observe a decline in their child's weight trajectory prompting them to seek evaluation. Chronic high blood sugar levels associated with T1D can cause fatigue and weakness. The lack of insulin prevents glucose from entering cells leading to tiredness and reduced physical activity levels (19, 20). Identifying these signs is crucial for intervention and preventing the progression towards more severe symptoms. Fluctuating blood sugar levels can also affect a child's mood and behavior causing irritability, mood swings and changes in temperament. It is essential to identify and understand these changes in behavior so that we can intervene promptly and provide social support. Another sign of T1D in children is an increase in appetite or polyphagia. Even though they may eat more their bodies are unable to use glucose, leading to a feeling of hunger. This, along with losing weight reveals the disruption in metabolism when insulin is absent. In some cases, it can progress to diabetic DKA, a complication. DKA occurs when fats break down into ketones for energy and can cause symptoms such as difficulty breathing, a fruity breath odor and abdominal pain. It's crucial to identify DKA as it requires medical attention. Changes in eyesight may occur due to the dehydrating effects of blood sugar levels resulting in vision or other vision problems. Taking action for changes is vital to prevent complications linked to prolonged high blood sugar levels. Children with T1D may have a likelihood of recurring infections, particularly yeast infections. Elevated blood sugar levels create an environment for growth emphasizing the importance of staying vigilant. The sudden onset or recurrence of bedwetting in children who were previously toilet trained could be a sign of T1D. Increased urine production caused by blood sugar contributes to bedwetting at night. In conclusion T1D presents symptoms that impact mental well-being in children. Recognizing these symptoms is crucial for diagnosis and proactive management of T1D leading to the best possible outcomes for affected children.


T1D in children involves an approach aimed at achieving blood sugar control preventing complications and ensuring the overall well-being of the child. The key aspect of this management is insulin therapy, which addresses the lack of insulin due to the destruction of beta cells (21). The main goal is to mimic how insulin is normally produced in the body taking into account both basal (background) and prandial (mealtime) insulin needs. Technological advancements have played a role in transforming how insulin is delivered. Insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems have revolutionized this field, particularly benefiting patients who require adaptable treatment strategies. Regular blood sugar monitoring is essential in managing T1D. The combination of fingerstick tests and real time data from CGM devices enables decision making. This dynamic approach allows for adjustments to insulin doses ensuring stable blood sugar levels are maintained (22). Alongside monitoring nutritional management plays a role well. Families are empowered with carbohydrate counting skills that help them make informed dietary choices to maintain blood sugar levels. Additionally, emphasis is placed on activity not for its general health benefits but also because it influences insulin adjustments and carbohydrate intake. Given the reaching effects of T1D it becomes evident that providing support is essential for effective clinical care. This aspect focuses on the social elements that come with living with T1D. Counseling services and support from peers play a role in the well-being of children creating a network of support beyond just medical settings. Education is crucial for managing T1D. It covers areas such as administering insulin, monitoring blood glucose levels, understanding nutrition and recognizing high blood sugar episodes. Empowering children to participate in their care promotes self-confidence, which is vital when dealing with a chronic condition. Regular medical checkups help refine the management plan by monitoring growth, development and potential complications allowing for adjustments that meet the evolving needs of the child. Being prepared for emergencies is a part of T1D management. Anticipating unexpected situations, like ketoacidosis or severe hypoglycemia ensures an efficient response. This preparedness involves not caregivers but educators and other relevant individuals who work together to prioritize the well-being of the child. By integrating these components alongside technological advancements and unwavering support systems an all-encompassing strategic framework is formed to effectively manage T1D in children. This method goes beyond managing blood sugar levels; it focuses on giving the child and their support system the resources, understanding and emotional strength needed to handle the challenges of T1D. In the end, the goal is to achieve the results and empower individuals with a deep sense of command over their health, enabling them to live a fulfilling life that goes beyond the limitations imposed by diabetes.


In summary this thorough examination of T1D in children highlights the importance of understanding its occurrence, causes, symptoms, diagnosis and modern treatment methods. The changing nature of T1D in people requires research, technological advancements and a comprehensive approach to care. From recognition of signs to a management strategy that goes beyond just controlling blood sugar levels, the goal is to improve outcomes and enhance the lives of affected children. As researchers’ healthcare professionals and policymakers collaborate together the direction of T1D care continues to progress offering hope for a future where those affected can face challenges, with strength and self-empowerment.


Conflict of interest

There is no conflict of interest.


No funding

Ethical consideration

Non applicable

Data availability

Data that support the findings of this study are embedded within the manuscript.

Author contribution

All authors contributed to conceptualizing, data drafting, collection and final writing of the manuscript.