For many years there has been a norm that diabetes only affects the elderly, little do they know that it is also affecting the young ones as well. Diabetes is expected to become the seventh global leading cause of death by 2030. In 2012, diabetes was the direct cause of 1.5 million deaths worldwide and statistics indicate that the risk of dying among people with diabetes is at least double that of their peers without diabetes according to Professor Said Abdullah, a diabetes specialist.
Approximately 90% of young people with diabetes suffer from type 1and the number of patients who are children may vary from place to place. The actual cause of diabetes conditions are little understood, in both children and adults. It is widely speculated that diabetes occurred when inherited genetic characteristics are triggered by environmental factors such as diet and exercise.
Professor Said Abdullah, a pediatric doctor and a diabetes specialist in Mombasa says that parents have to be keen and very close to their children in order to monitor their movements and behaviors. It is very hard to notice your child if they are suffering from diabetes. However your child can be inactive and very slow suddenly, you may notice that they drink a lot of water and visit the washroom a lot more that often. Your child may also bed wet at night and lose weight, he adds.
A picture of a child giving himself insulin shot under nurse’s supervision.
Meet Saida Mbarak, a mother of three girls, two of which have diabetes and the elder one had passed away due to type 1 diabetes.
Saida says she can remember the bitter years when she took care of her first born who was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of five. At that time she was still unfortunate and could not afford much of her medical treatments.
“I got married at a tender age and got my first baby, Mariam when I was still very young. Mariam was just five years of age when we came to know that she had diabetes and that was a shock to my husband and I as we were still financially unstable. There was a sudden change in her behavior as she used to be a very active child even in school activities. She isolated herself with all her friends in school as she became weak and passive”, she adds.
Most of the children are given insulin therapy instead of tablets medication since their bodies make very little insulin that is unable to keep their blood sugar level in a normal range for them to be healthy and normal as much as possible. The insulin can only be taken as injection or shot says professor Said at least twice or thrice a day. He also insists that insulin shots are not a punishment to your child and if only a parent wants the best for their child then they would inject as much insulin as possible to their child.
“I never attended much seminars when taking care of my first child regarding diabetes and this cost me a lot. I was given insulin shots in small glass bottles that were to be frozen then left to room temperature only when she needed it but due to lack of enough knowledge and poor living conditions I could not afford a fridge thus had to use cold water
|The insulin turned into poison and damaged my daughter’s inner organs like her pancreas and ulcers that became chronic and untreatable which later caused her early death,” says Saida.|
Shortly after the death of her first born Saida came to know that her last born was also diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at an early age. But this time things seem to be taking the right track. Both Saida and her daughter have been attending seminars and she has gained a lot from certain organizations that set up diabetes education.
“I have been attending a lot of seminars and different functions concerning diabetes together with my daughter. Non-Governmental organizations have been setting up lots of forums for parents taking care of diabetic children and also school trips that offer education concerning diabetes and this has greatly helped and benefited both of us. My child can now control her diet when she is at school and she can also inject herself insulin shots without my supervision keeping in mind she is only twelve years old”, she says.
Although diabetes treatment is a life-long process there are controllable measures that can be taken to minimize the risks of further risks says professor Said.
“Parents need to ensure that their children eat healthy and exercise regularly to keep their bodies in good shape. In the case whereby your child is already diabetic then make sure that insulin levels are regular and the will be achieved by giving your child insulin shots when recommended. Always be close to your children to notice any changes in them”,he urges
STORY BY FAUZI NOOR MURAYA