March 25, 2002
Diagnosis and Symptoms
Question from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, USA:
My eight year old was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes eight months ago, and since then we’ve watched our family members very closely. My sister’s three year old has had numerous febrile seizures, and she has noticed that when he doesn’t get a morning or afternoon snack, or has a meal he doesn’t like (so he doesn’t eat much) his behavior becomes naughty. He will be visiting a neurologist later this month. Could the seizures be somehow related to low blood sugar or diabetes? Would it be valuable for my sister to check my nephew’s blood sugar level after a seizure? Do many people with diabetes have a history of seizures when they were younger, or before they were diagnosed?
Seizure problems are not related to diabetes, although severe episodes of hypoglycemia can cause hypoglycemic convulsions. There is a condition called ketotic hypoglycemia that can also cause seizures, and this is especially a problem during illnesses when food intake is suboptimal.
Risks for cousins getting diabetes is significantly less than 2-5%. Any suspicious symptoms, however, of either hyperglycemia (urination, thirst, bedwetting, etc.) or hypoglycemia (crankiness, pallor, passing out, etc.) would be a reason to check blood glucose levels.
Your sister should discuss directly with her son’s pediatrician as well as the neurologist, for more detailed recommendations.