Skip to main content
Home » Advocacy » Helping Navigate Your Child’s Diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes
Children's Health and Safety

Helping Navigate Your Child’s Diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes

girl bicep jdrf type 1 diabetes
girl bicep jdrf type 1 diabetes
Dr. Sarah Linklater

Dr. Sarah Linklater

Chief Scientific Officer, JDRF Canada

Parenting can be stressful in the best of times, but when your child receives a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes (T1D), it can be overwhelming, and even frightening. But you are not alone. JDRF Canada has the resources and support you and your family need to move forward with confidence and begin your journey with hope.

What is T1D?

T1D is a chronic autoimmune condition in which insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are mistakenly destroyed by the body’s immune system. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows the body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in food consumed for energy. Diagnosis of T1D occurs at the time that the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin for the body’s needs, causing blood sugars to rise.

T1D can occur in people of any age, and its causes are not fully known. What we do know is that diet or lifestyle do not cause T1D, it is not contagious or something you can outgrow, and it is not currently preventable or curable.

Signs and symptoms of T1D

• Extreme thirst
• Unexplained weight loss
• Dry mouth
• Frequent urination
• Fruity odour on the breath
• Drowsiness or lethargy
• Increased appetite
• Heavy or laboured breathing
• Sudden vision changes

Day-to-day with T1D

Learning how to manage T1D means balancing insulin, food, exercise and stress to keep blood sugar levels in a target range (as determined by your doctor) as much as possible.

Living with T1D isn’t convenient, but thanks to advances in research and technology, it can be managed more easily than in the past. You will notice that each day may be different, and you’ll need to carefully plan and make adjustments to your or your child’s routine to stay on track.

Daily management of T1D involves checking blood sugar levels regularly throughout the day to avoid severe high or low levels and their related complications. If your child’s blood sugar levels are outside of the target range, you will need to respond with either insulin or carbohydrates. Even with careful attention, people with T1D can still experience dangerously high or low blood sugar levels. Learning to recognize the signs will help you to know what action to take and when.

Although T1D is a serious and challenging disease, long-term management options continue to evolve, allowing those with T1D to enjoy full and active lives.

JDRF is here to help

As you navigate this challenging period of adjustment to life with T1D, JDRF can provide a compassionate community and valuable information through our Bag of Hope®, which is filled with useful resources for children and teens who have been diagnosed with T1D and their caregivers. It also includes a special friend for children — Rufus, the Bear with Diabetes® — to show your child that they are not alone while learning to take shots and test blood sugar.

Watch Graham’s story on living with T1D

Next article