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Monday, October 17, 2011

Diabetes carb counting for children

By Lee Adder

Carbohydrates are an essential feature of a healthy, balanced diet. Present in many foods, carbs supply the body with glucose, allowing the body and brain to function properly. The body's cells need glucose for energy - without it, growth and brain development cannot take place, and physical activities would be impossible.

Carbs are present in fruit and veg, as well as dairy products, rice, bread and other grains. These foods also provide other important vitamins, minerals and fiber. Snacks like crisps, biscuits and cakes are also a source of carbs, but lack the nutritional value of the other foods mentioned.

In a healthy child's body, carbs are turned into glucose, and glucose is then moved around the body by insulin, providing the cells with energy. Diabetic children can't produce enough insulin, though, so they must balance their carb intake with insulin levels so that healthy blood sugar levels can be maintained.

Carb counting is the best way for diabetics to plan and regulate their diet. In order to ensure you are administering the correct amount of insulin, you should set a fixed amount of carbs for each meal and snack.

Your GP or healthcare advisor will be able to help you determine your child's nutritional needs, and what amount of carbs you should be aiming to include in their diet. Their requirements will be affected by factors including age, gender, body weight and activity levels. Based on this information, you can then determine appropriate amount of rapid- or short-acting insulin to administer.

Optimum insulin-to-carb ratios are different for every child, and as a child grows, the ideal ratio will change. Generally, the older a child gets, the more insulin they will require per gram of carbs consumed. For advice on establishing a suitable ratio and making this work in practice, you should speak to your GP or diabetes specialist.

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