A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds a 21 percent increase in the diagnoses of Type 1 diabetes cases between 2001 and 2009. Many of those who are diagnosed with this form of diabetes are children, some as young as infants. Type 1 diabetes presents serious challenges for children and their families, who must adjust to a way of life that can in some cases include checking blood sugar levels every three hours throughout the night.
On top of the rising rate of diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes, there are other issues. Across the U.S., there is a shortage of 1,500 adult and 100 pediatric full-time equivalent endocrinologists, according to a news release from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. This means children living with the condition may have difficulty finding an appointment with an endocrinologist in a timely manner, as may adults with the condition. This is a particularly difficult circumstance for Type 1 diabetes patients, who need to see their practitioners at least quarterly and often more.
Finding an endocrinologist who is both available and compatible with a patient and his or her family can be hard enough, and the shortage intensifies the challenge for many people. There are also allied services that are important to access, such as diabetes education and social work appointments to help children and their families cope with their new realities.
Families of children with this condition often need to find support elsewhere if diabetes educators and social workers are unavailable. This can include groups of children and families dealing with the disease, which can meet in person or online. Speaking with other people who face the same problems can be very helpful in both a practical and emotional sense for people living with diabetes.