What are the symptoms of a child with diabetes?

Symptoms of a child with diabetes

It is a parent’s worst nightmare to find one day that your child has developed type 1 diabetes. There are tell-tale symptoms of a child with diabetes that can develop quickly or over a period of weeks. These symptoms maybe different for very young infants, but for children over 5 years old the symptoms are mainly the same as they are for adults. The key point of this blog post is to spread awareness because diabetes can strike anyone at any time, it does not discriminate, even though there are certain races that are at more high risk than others.

It is important to seek medical advice immediately if you see any symptoms of a child with diabetes.

Symptoms of a child with diabetes

Very young children with diabetes

Very young children that develop diabetes can create a very large challenge for parents and medical professionals. Parents of young diabetics need to be very well educated on the issue. The percentage of infants and toddlers with diabetes is relatively small. There are still warning signs to be mindful of even though very young children may not display the classic tell-tale symptoms of the disease.

Children under 5 years of age represent less than 2% of the people with the disorder. But there has been a growing trend towards people developing type 1 diabetes becoming younger and younger.Very young children with diabetes


Probably the most important issue for a young infant with type 1 diabetes is hypoglycaemia. Hypoglycemia  issues with young children can be severe and often lead to sometime spent in hospital. Bad bouts of hypoglycaemia can also impair their growing and developing brains. Young infants obviously cannot express themselves the way a teenager can so parents need to be very mindful of their blood sugar levels so that they don’t drop to dangerously low levels. Parents need to watch for signs of irritability, sweating or crying that sounds a little different from normal.

All families of children with diabetes should have a Glucagon Emergency Kit at home to treat severe hypoglycemia in an emergency situation.

Symptoms of a child with diabetes

By and large these are the tell-tale signs of a child with diabetes. To state the obvious once again – if you even suspect that your child displays one or some of these symptoms seek immediate medical advice. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Increased thirst  – as sugar builds in your child’s blood, fluid is taken away from their tissue. This can leave your child very thirsty or a lot more thirsty than usual. Keep watch for this sign as it will happen to almost all children that have diabetes.

Increased urination – especially at night. This is a warning sign of their body attempting to rid itself of the excess fluid that are drinking and also the body attempting to rid itself of the excess sugar.

Increased hunger – a lack of insulin in the body means that sugar cannot be transported to their cells which means that muscles and organs are not receiving adequate amounts of energy causing big shifts in hunger.

Weight loss – this is usually unexplained weight loss and may come despite the fact your child is eating and drinking more. It is usually one of the tell-tale signs that affects children who have become diabetic. Muscles and fat stores will deplete without the energy from sugar being received by cells.

Increased tiredness – again this may happen at inappropriate times. This again happens as sugar/ energy is not being received by your child’s muscles and tissues.

Increased irritability – Your child may come across as moody or irritable which maybe a harder sign to detect.

A yeast infection – may affect girls with type 1 diabetes. This may affect them in the genital region. Babies with type 1 diabetes may develop diaper/ nappy rash.

Trouble with eyes – a child may get blurred vision as fluids will be being pulled from the lenses.


Unfortunately there is a growing incidence of young children with diabetes. You need to keep an eye out for symptoms of a child with diabetes. For very young children with diabetes this maybe very difficult to gauge but keep the tell-tale signs listed above in mind. On the positive side I do believe that a cure for diabetes will be found in my lifetime.

Please also read my blog post on diabetes and pregnancy complications and normal blood sugar levels for diabetics.

Please comment below if you have a child with diabetes or to ask questions about symptoms of a child with diabetes.

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  1. Margaret

    This is an excellent article and I hope every parent reads it. I read recently that type 2 diabetes is occurring in younger age groups and I was very surprised. It was always thought of as the mature aged people who were likely to get it. I guess it is related to the amount of junk food kids are eating and lack of exercise. Type 1 diabetes is a real challenge for the parent of a child and the younger the child the harder it is. I am eternally grateful my children were healthy.

    1. Ben (Post author)

      It is amazing that type 2 diabetes is becoming more prevalent among a younger age group. I agree with your comments that junk food maybe to blame. Im so glad that your children are all healthy. Make sure that they understand how important it is to stay healthy,,,

  2. Martin Kelly

    What a great site,I knew a neigbor had it when I was growing up saw him drink pitcher after pitcher of coolaid and saw it happen.It seems like mothers are more aware of sugar and food these days.You should include an article on sugar by a fabour dr Lustig / something like that I neverr knew gods could get it 1 wow. And I really like your section on latest developments fantastic site with new upcoming information-all in all a great site and resource thanks for sharing.

    1. Ben (Post author)

      Thanks Martin. Yes parents should be a lot more aware these days. There is a tonne of information about ingredients of food available. It’s important to have treats every now and again though. Everything in moderation as they say!

  3. Kris

    This is such an informative article. All parents should be aware of these symptoms to watch for as without education, these symptoms could be missed and misinterpreted as just normal childlike idiosyncracies. My children are constantly hungry, and often desperately thirsty, but I know they are just being themselves. Are they sick or lethargic with diabetes? Is type 1 the insulin dependent one? What age can this disease onset?
    Thanks for the information, Kris

    1. Ben (Post author)

      Unexplained weight loss, being excessively thirsty and being up several times at night urinating were the three main symptoms that I experienced many years ago. Your kids are probably fine but there is nothing wrong with a blood test to confirm that things are all good. Type 1 diabetes is insulin dependant which means daily insulin injections. It can affect children of an age, that is why it is called juvenile diabetes.


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