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Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1

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What is Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus?

People cannot live without insulin every day. Children with Type 1 Diabetes do not make enough insulin.

What does insulin do?

Insulin helps glucose get into your body's cells.

What is glucose?

Glucose is fuel for the body's cells. Glucose comes from the food we eat. Without insulin, glucose "builds up" in the blood. This "build-up" of glucose causes symptoms of diabetes, such as increased thirst, hunger, urination and weight loss.

How do you control diabetes?

"Good control" means keeping the glucose level in the blood as close to the best range for your child as possible. Good control of diabetes may prevent problems of the eyes, heart, feet, nerves or kidneys. To stay in good control, your child will need a balance of food, exercise and insulin.


A simple healthy pattern of eating normal foods is the best way to stay in good control. The meal plan should be well balanced and healthy; allow choices and limit sugar and sweets (such as cakes, pies, cookies, and regular sodas). The most healthy food choices are low in fat.

Cutting back on fried foods and fatty meats (bacon, sausage, ham, etc.), butter, sour cream, and mayonnaise are very important steps in making healthy food choices. Foods with high fiber, such as whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables, beans, peas and nuts are also healthy food choices. This meal plan is ideal for the whole family. You do not need to buy "diabetic foods". These foods are often lower in calories but still contain sugar! 


Your child, like all other children, will feel better and be healthier with regular exercise. Exercise helps glucose to get into the cells. It can help to keep blood sugar levels from rising. If blood sugar is high or ketones are present (see Way to Grow: Urine Testing for Ketones), check with your child's doctor before exercising.


Your child's doctor or nurse educator will help you decide the insulin dose and number of daily injections. Let your child take part in his/her own care. Many children with diabetes can manage their own injections by the age of ten years; some children can do it even before that.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 07/2008

(757) 668-7000