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Where to begin when your child is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes

5 tips for families learning how to manage life with type 1 diabetes from our certified diabetes educators

By Gay Castle, RD, LD, CDE
November 21, 2017

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I work with families every day who get the news their child has been diagnosed with diabetes. Many parents have questions.

Our Pediatric Endocrinology department has teamed up with HealthPartners Institute Patient Education to create a special diabetes care guide. It’s called Successfully Managing Diabetes: Your Care Guide for Type 1 Diabetes. And it helps answer a lot of those questions that families have.

Here are 5 tips from the guide to get you started with adjusting to life after a type 1 diabetes diagnosis:

  1. Make sure your child sees a specialist and has a care team.

    A pediatric endocrinologist visit every 3 months is important. Changes in diabetes care are needed as your child grows. And changes with activities and schedules can affect diabetes care, too. Your child’s diabetes care team includes:

  2. Let your child be a child.

    Treating children with type 1 diabetes just like other children is important. Let your child take part in all childhood activities while still taking care of their diabetes.

  3. Start successful diabetes management with the basics.

    Remember “TIE.”

    • Test. Test blood glucose at least 5 times a day. Test before meals, before an afternoon snack and at bedtime. Or, use a continuous glucose monitor device.
    • Insulin. Give insulin before eating.
    • Eat. Eat healthy meals and snacks. Measure and count carbs in all foods to match insulin doses. Reduce the amount of high sugar foods you have in your home. These include candy, soda, donuts and cookies. They have little nutritional value. And if they are eaten without taking extra insulin, blood sugar level (glucose) will increase.
  4. Promote ongoing education and diabetes self-care as your child grows and matures.

    Children are able to handle different diabetes self-care tasks depending on their age. Children can begin to help manage their diabetes around age 8-12. But know that a common mistake is pushing your child to take too much responsibility before he or she is ready. Studies show diabetes management is more successful when parents stay involved in their child’s diabetes care.

  5. Use diabetes online resources.

    Learning how to navigate life with diabetes can be challenging. But there are lots of organizations out there that can help – so take advantage of them! They can get you connected to support groups and special camps for children with diabetes. They can send you free care kits and diabetes-friendly recipes. And they can arm you with information to answer the questions (and dispel the myths!) you are bound to get from friends and family. I recommend checking out what these 4 organizations have to offer first:

These are just 5 tips from Successfully Managing Diabetes: Your Care Guide for Type 1 Diabetes. The full guide is available to all of our pediatric endocrinology patients. And new patients transferring from other health systems will get it, too. If you are interested in getting a copy, talk with a certified diabetes educator at your next visit.

HealthPartners was honored with two National Health Information Awards for this guide in 2017. The guide was judged one of the best consumer health information materials produced in the United States in 2017, earning a Gold Award. And it was one of five Gold Award-winning submissions to also be named a Best of Show winner.


About Gay Castle, RD, LD, CDE

Gay Castle is a Diabetes Educator and Licensed Dietitian at our Park Nicollet Clinic in St Louis Park. She currently works in Pediatric Endocrinology and has been with Park Nicollet for more than 25 years. Gay finds providing ongoing diabetes education and support to children and adolescents as they grow to be very rewarding. She says participating in diabetes research studies like the Diabetes Control and Complication Trial (DCCT) have also been career highlights for her. Outside of work she likes to spend time walking around Lake Harriet and the Arboretum, and going to book club.

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