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June 23, 1999

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from South Portland, Maine, USA:

I have Type 1 diabetes and I have a son who is 7 years old. When my son has had few carbohydrates in his diet he becomes very difficult, irritable, angry, and does not want to eat anything when he gets like this. After he eats, for example, a slice of pizza, approximately 20 to 30 minutes later he is completely better, like a different person. Is it possible that he has a sugar related problem, like hypoglycemia?

Answer:

I think that by far the most likely explanation for the behaviour pattern that you describe is hypoglycemia. Since you are diabetic yourself I am sure you are anxious that this could be an early manifestation of the same disorder in your son. Let me say then that this behaviour pattern is common in perfectly normal children. You can of course confirm this yourself with your own glucose monitor.

In any case hypoglycemia is a very uncommon presenting symptom of diabetes at this age. Normal children with this pattern often preserve it as they get older but learn to satisfy hunger promptly and to find a minimum remedy such as half a glass of orange juice if it is not mealtime. If you continue to be anxious you might talk to your doctor about an antibody test or call 1-800-425-8361 for details.

DOB