11 Myths about Kids with Diabetes

If you’re a parent of a child who has diabetes, you know there are just some things people just don’t know about it. You wish they did, but they don’t. To you, the rest of the world seems highly uneducated and judgmental, constantly wondering why your child’s condition isn’t cured or why you didn’t make better parenting decisions to prevent this from happening.

Well we’re with you. We’ve compiled a list of myths about kids with diabetes that are more common than we wish they were. Feel free to share with your friends who just don’t seem to get it (or those “helpful” advice-givers who only think they’re being your friends). At the very least, you can take comfort in the knowledge that you’re not the only one plagued by other people’s assumptions.

11. Diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar

While excess sugar intake can be a cause of weight gain, which can contribute to type 2 diabetes, eating too much sugar is not a direct cause of diabetes. And it’s really not related to type 1 diabetes at all, which is caused by the pancreas not producing insulin.

Colorful candy

10. You can outgrow diabetes

Wouldn’t that be nice. Type 1 diabetes is not currently curable or outgrowable. And while type 2 diabetes can sometimes be improved with healthy lifestyle habits and sometimes improves after puberty, it’s not something you outgrow either.

seed pod germination - plant seedling

9. Stinky feet is a sign of diabetes.

While foot problems could be an issue later in life if your child has diabetes, stinky feet is not a sign of diabetes. Stinky feet is a sign that your child’s feet aren’t being washed often enough. Time to have that hygiene chat!

Close up of shiny  tennis shoes on child's feet

8. Kids with diabetes can never have sugar

Kids with diabetes need to control the amount of carbohydrates they eat, and that includes sweets. Everyone, kids and adults, regardless of whether they have diabetes, should be limiting their intake of sweets because of the limited nutritional value they offer. But that doesn’t mean no sweets at all!

Cute little boy sitting at the table, unhappy with his vegetable meal, bad eating habits, nutrition and healthy eating concept

7. Diabetes is contagious

Um…no. It’s not the flu, people. If your child has a friend with diabetes, you do not have to worry about your child “catching” it. The development of diabetes has nothing to do with whether the people around you have it (unless they’re blood related).

sick kid with runny nose and fever heat lying on couch at home

6. You can get diabetes from childhood vaccines

There is currently no evidence that diabetes can be caused by vaccinations. We’re not saying it’s impossible, but until we see some proof, we’re not going to jump to that conclusion.

Vaccine for Children

5. High blood sugar levels are normal for some people and aren’t a sign of diabetes

High blood sugar levels aren’t normal. It’s possible for a person who doesn’t have diabetes to get high blood sugar levels temporarily from a medication or illness, but permanent or long-term high blood sugar is not okay; it means you should get checked for diabetes.

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4. Insulin cures diabetes

Some people still think diabetes is a curable disease, and they think insulin is a super-simple approach to fixing the problem. If you have a kid with diabetes, people may ask why your child was feeling so good last week but is now having complications. They may ask why you still struggle to control your diabetes or wonder when he or she will be able to get off insulin and be “cured.” And the answer is never. Many outside factors influence how we’ll we’re able to control diabetes, and insulin is not a magic cure.

Insulin pen

3. Kids with diabetes can’t exercise

All kids, regardless of whether they have diabetes, should exercise. In fact, exercise is particularly important for children with diabetes, because it helps control their blood sugar. It reduces stress, improves mood, and makes for a healthy heart. It also helps lessen the risk of excess weight gain, which will help them control their diabetes more successfully later in life.

orphan, unhappy boy sitting on a park bench and crying

2. Having a pump means you don’t have to worry about insulin.

We wish. Having diabetes is a 24/7 job. Every time a person with diabetes who has a pump eats, a calculation needs to be done to determine how much insulin to pump based on what is being eaten. For parents of kids with diabetes, this means it is very difficult to allow your kid to go somewhere without you, since they will be entirely on their own with those calculations (or you’ll have to teach another parent how to care for them). Insulin is not a cure, and it’s not even a very simple treatment; it’s simply the sword we wield against our invisible enemy–useless unless we know how to employ it properly.

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1. Kids with diabetes don’t have to take their insulin or pills when they’re sick

It is especially important to take your insulin when you’re sick. Your child’s insulin dose may need to be adjusted based on whether they’re not eating much or throwing up what they do eat, but they still need some insulin to help give their body the energy it needs to heal itself. Talk to your doctor about how much insulin to give while your child is ill.

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What’s something you wish people knew about your child with diabetes? Tell us in the comments!

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