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October 30, 2002

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Oakville, Ontario, Canada:

My husband and oldest son both have type 1 diabetes, and I am often quite concerned when either of my two younger children exhibit symptoms. Last night, my younger son was up to use the washroom twice and later wet his bed (totally uncharacteristic for him). A blood glucose test (with my older son's meter) before breakfast read 7.1mmol/L [128 mg/dl], but doing it was extremely stressful for my son. I realize this is on the threshold of normal, but his stress level may have easily caused the rise. Is it reasonable to check my other children occasionally with urine dipsticks? Is this an accurate way to keep an eye on them? Is it possible to have a positive result for any reason other than diabetes?

Answer:

I really think you might want to check your other children’s autoantibodies (islet cell, GAD, and insulin autoantibodies) periodically (once every other year until age of 20). These are markers of an increased risk for future type 1 diabetes especially among people with a positive family (as it happens for your family). Blood glucose either by meter or by lab as well as the urinalysis are both too late an exam.

MS