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Juvenile diabetes: Trouble at a young age

Insulin-dependent diabetes is affecting people at a young age, with the average age of diagnosis falling to adolescence. Experts say the incidence of insulin-dependent diabetes in children has increased and the age of diagnosis has lowered.

health and fitness Updated: Jun 29, 2014 01:23 IST
Rhythma Kaul
Rhythma Kaul
Hindustan Times day starts with a needle prick to check his blood glucose levels. It’s followed by an insulin shot, after which he opens a notebook and makes a diary entry of the levels. This happens four times a day.

It was a shock for the family when Janesh Raju, who will soon turn 13, was diagnosed with insulin-deficient type 1 diabetes two months ago.

“We did not know young children could get diabetes. In our family, we have only grandparents and parents suffering from the disease. It obviously upset us all, and Janesh was worst affected,” said Balakrishnan Raju, Janesh’s father.

The doctor spoke to Janesh at length, explaining him how he would be fine if he kept his sugar levels under control by eating healthy food, exercising and taking insulin shots regularly.

“The diagnosis happened when his school was closed for summer break. The doctor asked us to inform her when school re-opened so that she could reschedule his shots accordingly,” said Raju.

Janesh’s problem began a few months ago when he complained of excessive weakness, frequent urination, sudden increase of appetite and rapid weight loss.

“Tests showed there was acute insulin deficiency in the body, so much so that his body had started metabolising the fat,” said Dr Alka Jha, consultant- Fortis Centre of excellence for diabetes, metabolic diseases and endocrinology.

Experts say the incidence of insulin-dependent diabetes in children has increased and the age of diagnosis has lowered. “When I was a medical student our professors used to see probably one case of juvenile diabetes a year, I get at least two new cases every month. The age group is also of younger children in comparison,” says Dr Vaishakhi Rustagi, consultant paediatric endocrinology, Max Shalimar Bagh.

There is no particular reason for getting the disease, and there’s also no cure.

“The affected child has to be on insulin for life. Fortunately there are more super-specialists nowadays and treatment has also advanced that has led to better quality of life for these children,” Dr Rustagi added.

First Published: Jun 28, 2014 21:23 IST