Diabetic kids can still enjoy Christmas treats if parents take special care

December 11, 2013

Indulgences abound during the holidays—from family gatherings to parties with friends and even stockings stuffed with goodies from Santa. For children with diabetes, overindulging on the delicacies of the season could result in more than a stomachache, it could mean a trip to the emergency room.

"It's extremely important for parents to communicate with their during the to ensure the festivities are fun but also safe," said Himala Kashmiri, DO, pediatric endocrinologist at Loyola University Health System and assistant professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "Diabetes doesn't mean your child can't enjoy the foods of the season. It just means you have to be prepared and communicate with your child about how to control blood sugar."

He suggested parents check their child's blood sugar more often during the holidays and, if the numbers seem high, to look for ketones in the urine. Ketone tests are available at your pharmacy. They are simple, but for best results follow instructions carefully.

"How often a parent checks their child's blood sugar can vary, but during the holidays it's especially important to check before every meal and in certain situations before snacks. Checking four to six times per day during the holidays is a good idea, keeping in mind that the frequency might even be higher depending on your child's blood sugar readings," Kashmiri said.

Though parents need to ensure their child is safe, too many restrictions may lead to a child sneaking food, which can become dangerous if the child is not protected with insulin. Being aware of what a child eats allows the parents to respond with appropriate medication.

"There is a misconception that a child with has to avoid sweets. That's not true. Children with diabetes just need insulin to help them process the food. Make sure your children know that they need to tell you if they are eating certain foods so you can give them an appropriate amount of insulin," Kashmiri said. "If you keep the communication lines open and help the child know you are on the same team, a child will be less likely to sneak snacks, which can cause extreme elevations in blood sugar. You'll want to closely monitor blood sugar but also make sure they can have fun."

In addition to checking , look for signs of low or . Signs of include:

  • Extreme hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Shakiness
  • Pale skin color
  • Weakness
  • Headache

Signs of high include:

  • Drinking a lot of fluids
  • Urinating frequently
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling "not right"
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting

If your child is unable to hold down fluids and food, make an appointment with a physician as soon as possible. If high urine ketones are present, your child may need to increase the frequency of insulin,  drink more fluids, and/or go to the if the urine ketones level does not improve.

"During the holidays parents should keep a closer eye on what is happening with their child's diabetes, but it's also important that the child be able to experience all the joys of the holidays," Kashmiri said.

Explore further: First pediatric-focused diabetes calculator

Related Stories

First pediatric-focused diabetes calculator

June 12, 2013
Nationwide Children's Hospital recently developed an online resource to help parents manage their child's diabetes more effectively and care for their health at home. The "Diabetes Calculator for Kids," a first of its kind ...

A deadly form of diabetes that doctors sometimes miss

June 19, 2013
(HealthDay)—Addie Parker was a happy 4-year-old who appeared to have the flu. But within hours she was in a coma.

Large European study suggests men with type 1 diabetes are better at blood sugar control than women

September 23, 2013
Men with type 1 diabetes appear to be better at blood sugar control than women, but there is no significant difference in blood sugar control between boys and girls. These are the findings of new research presented at this ...

Use of spanking exacerbates aggressive child behavior

December 10, 2013
A mother's affection after she spanks her child does little to diminish the negative impact of the act, a new University of Michigan study finds.

Can putting your child before yourself make you a happier person?

October 31, 2013
While popular media often depicts highly-involved parents negatively as "helicopter parents" or "tiger moms, how does placing one's children at the center of family life really affect parental well-being? New research published ...

Recommended for you

Smart mat detects early warning signs of foot ulcers

August 16, 2017
While completing his residency in anesthesiology at Massachusetts General Hospital in the mid-2000s, Jon Bloom saw his fair share of foot amputations among patients with diabetes. The culprit: infected foot ulcers.

The best place to treat type 1 diabetes might be just under your skin

August 14, 2017
A group of U of T researchers have demonstrated that the space under our skin might be an optimal location to treat type 1 diabetes (T1D).

New measure of insulin-making cells could gauge diabetes progression, treatment

August 10, 2017
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a new measurement for the volume and activity of beta cells, the source of the sugar-regulating hormone insulin.

Pioneering immunotherapy shows promise in type 1 diabetes

August 9, 2017
It may be possible to 'retrain' the immune system to slow the progression of type 1 diabetes, according to results of a clinical trial published today in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Online team-based game helps patients with diabetes lower blood glucose

August 8, 2017
Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System have found that an online, team-based game designed to teach patients about diabetes self-management had a sustained and meaningful ...

Oxidative stress biomarkers don't always signal diabetes risk

August 7, 2017
High levels of compounds found in the body that are commonly associated with oxidative damage may actually be a good sign for some people, according to a recent review of multiple human studies led by an epidemiologist at ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.