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3 Parents Share the Symptoms That Made Them Realize Their Kid Might Have Type 1 Diabetes

Today, G. wears a continuous glucose monitor that sends his blood sugar levels directly to his babysitter, school nurse, and grandparents, along with Erenberg and her husband. An alarm goes off on everyone’s smartphones when his blood sugar levels climb dangerously high, which can sometimes happen, Erenberg says—and, she adds, is often stressful. In general, though, Erenberg says things are going well for G. “He’s doing great in school. He plays all these sports,” she says. “He’s a healthy, cute kid.”

“Teachers noticed how thin he looked.”

On a family trip in 2021, Jennifer Adelberg picked up on the fact that her son, M., then 14, was running to the bathroom more than usual. Two weeks after they returned home, a nurse at M.’s school called Adelberg to let her know that she and his teachers were concerned about his weight. Adelberg was aware he’d gotten thinner, but didn’t think it was cause for concern—M.’s last check-up at the pediatrician didn’t indicate anything was potentially off there. Hearing that others in M.’s life were worried about him led Adelberg to look more closely at what was going on. “That, to me, was really the tipping point,” Adelberg, who lives in St. James, New York, tells SELF. She suspected that undiagnosed celiac disease (which runs in their family) was the possible cause of M.’s weight loss and scheduled an appointment to meet with a pediatrician the next day.

The doctor ordered some tests, including blood work, which showed that M.’s blood glucose was abnormally high. The pediatrician sent M. straight to the emergency room to make sure his life wasn’t in danger. Thankfully, it wasn’t, but he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Now, at 16, M. has learned more about how to care for his condition. He tracks his blood sugar levels with a continuous glucose monitor and insulin pump. The monitor tells him when his blood sugar is too high or low before it alerts his parents, so he can give himself medicine when he needs it.

Adelberg finds support through JDRF, a nonprofit organization that funds and advocates for research on treating, preventing, and curing type 1 diabetes, and she runs their weekly Zoom calls for parents and caregivers of newly diagnosed kids. In her experiences with type 1 diabetes in children, she’s learned that if you have a hunch something’s up with your little one, you should insist on screenings—even if that means getting a second opinion. “If you have a concern about your child, you go to the pediatrician, and if they won’t do a simple finger prick [to test for high blood glucose levels], then I think it’s time for a new pediatrician,” Adelberg says.

“He was peeing through his pull-ups at night.”

As if starting kindergarten wasn’t a big enough transition for Nicole Pearl Kaplan’s six-year-old son, R., he also experienced some odd health issues in 2017. R. was pounding water, peeing through his pull-ups at night, and getting a lot thinner: “If you look back at pictures of him, he lost a ton of weight in a two-week period,” Kaplan, who lives in Chicago, tells SELF. Around that same time, R. was due for his annual wellness visit with a pediatrician. Kaplan brought up R.’s nighttime accidents to the doctor, but was told it was normal for kids at his age to have them.

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