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July 31, 2002

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Question from :

Silver Spring, Maryland, USA: My friend's five year old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes about a month or two ago, and she cannot get over feeling that she had something to do with his diagnosis. His babysitter's daughter had mono, so my friend's son was exposed to it, and she's afraid that could have caused diabetes. She was also told that stress could cause it, and she had at her son and made him stay in his room (like any parent). I don't know how to reach her so she will stop feeling guilty about not being able to prevent his diabetes.

Answer:

How lucky your friend is to have you! Not many people would reach out like you are doing to help. It is normal for parents to feel guilty about their child’s diagnosis, asking questions like what could I have done differently, or what did I do to cause it, or why did this have to happen to us? You are correct, however, that no one causes diabetes, and that diabetes cannot be prevented.

Your friend may benefit from talking over her concerns with her son’s diabetes team. Perhaps you can even offer to go to her son’s next clinic appointment with her, and then ask the team (in front of her) about whether or not someone can cause diabetes by exposing their child to a virus. Other great resources your friend may enjoy are: Understanding Insulin-Dependent Diabetes by H. Peter Chase, M.D. and The Ten Keys to Helping Your Child Grow Up With Diabetes by Tim Wysocki, Ph.D.

JWB