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December 6, 2001

Other Social Issues

Question from Florence, New Jersey, USA:

I lived with diabetes all my life, as my mother had it for 59 years, and I baby sit an 18 month old Hispanic female every day, who, for the last ten days, has literally been screaming for drinks and has been saturating 8-11 diapers in a nine-hour period. Also, she is "chubby" for her age and height (31 pounds). I have spoken to her mother about these "symptoms" every day for the last week, but her response is there is no family history of diabetes, and the child is just thirsty. The child is urinating large amounts without drinking, although I have been giving her more water in order to hold off DKA [diabetic ketoacidosis]. I am extremely concerned for this child! How do I get her mom to have her tested?

Answer:

This child’s health is the responsibility of the mother. I appreciate your concerns regarding the health of the child. In my opinion, you have two options. The first is to have a serious talk with the mother and encourage her to have the child seen. The second is to speak with your local child protection authorities and relay your concerns to them if you believe that not having the child seen is neglecting the child or endangering the child’s health.

MSB

[Editor’s comment: If this child’s mother needs to work, you also might offer to take her to the pediatrician. If work is not the issue, you could suggest going with the mother since it appears that she is in denial. You might also contact other relatives such as the child’s father or grandparents for additional help. If all else fails, I concur with Dr. Brown in that you may need to relay your concerns to the proper authorities.

SS]