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A Journal on Pediatrics, Neonatology, Adolescent Medicine,
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Minerva Pediatrica 2000 December;52(12):719-30

Copyright © 2000 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English, Italian

Diabetes mellitus in the pre-school child

Santilli F., Greene S., Chiarelli F.


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Diabetes mellitus presents rarely in the pre-school child and presents specific problems because of the peculiarity of the young child physiology. Pathogenesis involves the classic immunological mechanisms, with a higher incidence of other autoimmunity and family history of diabetes. Because of the rarity of the condition in this age group, the delay of the recognition of the signs and symptoms, which are often subtle at onset, determines the increased incidence of ketoacidosis. The reasons for the lower glycaemic control in this age group include the persistence of endogenous insulin, but also a more detailed involvement by the parents in organising diabetes. For the same reason ketoacidosis is an unusual occurrence after diagnosis. As to insulin therapy, three or more injections a day should be recommended, as in the older child, while the modern devices for blood glucose monitoring have proved useful to improve glycaemic control and to decrease the frequency of nocturnal hypoglycaemia, which gives particular concern given the vulnerability of the nervous system in this age group. Management of diabetes in the pre-school child may result very difficult for both parents and health carers because of the erratic daily pattern of activity, sleep and feeding; however, with a cautious strategy which involves insulin therapy, diet and monitoring it is possible to achieve satisfactorily the following aims: physical well-being of the young child, normal growth, lack of hyperglycaemia or hypoglycaemia, acceptable value of glycosilated haemoglobin.

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