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February 25, 2009

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Caruthersville, Missouri, USA:

How can you tell if your six-week-old has diabetes?


From: DTeam Staff

While it is not too common to have diabetes mellitus in a young infant, such as a six-week-old, it is not impossible. There are rare, inheritable conditions that can be associated with neonatal diabetes.

The symptoms are, in many ways, similar to any other older person with diabetes mellitus: it starts with increased urination. Whereas in an older child, this would be associated with increased thirst, a young infant may manifest only with irritability and an exceptional eager voracious “attack” of the bottle. They may drink so quickly that they vomit. But very often, there is so much loss of fluids through urination and an inability to keep pace by drinking that such children become quickly dehydrated, which is manifested with sunken eyes, lethargy, poor skin elasticity and, nevertheless, inappropriately “good” urine flow.

Another common symptom of diabetes somewhat specific to this age group is the development of a severe fungal diaper rash (as any baby can get), but more severe and more resistant to the typical treatments and ointments.

Having said that, there are other conditions that can mimic the increased urination of diabetes mellitus that can also occur in this age group. One has the confusing name of “diabetes insipidus” which has nothing to do with sugar. In this age group, an inherited for of diabetes insipidus is more common than other forms of diabetes insipidus and most often occurs in boys rather than girls. Certain anatomic issues can lead to “constant” urine production.

So, in this age group, I wouldn’t delay. Have your child checked. A simple urine and blood test should be able to tell if this is diabetes mellitus. Other tests may be required to ascertain for other conditions associated with increased urination.


[Editor’s comment:

Should tests confirm your child has diabetes, be sure you contact Dr. Louis Philipson at the University of Chicago and read the information at www.diabetesgenes.org.