Why does your child need regular tests?
Diabetes can be hard on your child's body if it's not well managed. But having certain tests on a regular schedule can help you and your doctor find problems early. Treating problems early can help prevent serious complications.
What tests does your child need?
Your child's doctor may vary some of the tests, how often the tests are done, and the goals set for your child. This may depend on your child's age and size, and whether your child has type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The tests your child may have include these listed here.
- A1c blood test.
This test shows the average level of your child's blood sugar over the past 2 to 3 months. It helps the doctor find out if blood sugar levels have been staying within your child's target range.
- How often: Every 3 months
- Goal: A blood sugar level in your child's target range
- Blood pressure test.
This test measures the pressure of blood flow in your child's arteries. Controlling blood pressure can help prevent damage to nerves and blood vessels.
- How often: At every visit to the doctor
- Goal: A blood pressure level in your child's target range
- Cholesterol test.
This test measures the amount of a type of fat in the blood. High cholesterol is common with diabetes. It can build up inside the blood vessels. This raises the risk for heart attack and stroke.
- How often: Soon after the diabetes diagnosis. For type 1 diabetes, testing is at least every 3 years. For type 2, testing is yearly.
- Goal: A cholesterol level in your child's target range
- Albumin-creatinine ratio test.
This test checks for kidney damage by looking for the protein albumin (say "al-BYOO-mun") in the urine. Albumin is normally found in the blood. Kidney damage can let small amounts of it (microalbumin) leak into the urine.
- How often: For type 1 diabetes, once a year after your child has had diabetes for 5 years. For type 2 diabetes, once a year after the diagnosis.
- Goal: No protein in the urine
- Blood creatinine test.
The blood creatinine (say "kree-AT-uh-neen") level shows how well the kidneys are working. Creatinine is a waste product that muscles release into the blood. A high level may mean the kidneys are not working as well as they should.
- How often: Soon after diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Depending on your child's age, length of time with diabetes, or type of diabetes treatment, your child's doctor may suggest that the test be done again later.
- Goal: Normal level of creatinine in the blood
- Complete foot exam.
The doctor checks for foot sores, foot pulses, and whether any sensation has been lost.
- How often: Once a year, if your child has had diabetes for 5 years and has started puberty or has had diabetes for 5 years and is at least 10 years old.
- Goal: Healthy feet with no foot ulcers or loss of feeling
- Dental exam and cleaning.
The dentist checks for gum disease and tooth decay. Children with high blood sugar are more likely to have these problems.
- How often: Every 6 months
- Goal: Healthy teeth and gums
- Complete eye exam.
High blood sugar levels can damage the eyes. This exam is done by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. It includes a dilated eye exam. The exam shows whether there's damage to the back of the eye (diabetic retinopathy).
- How often: Once every two years, if your child has had type 1 diabetes for 3 to 5 years and has started puberty or is at least 11 years old, whichever is earlier. Children with type 2 diabetes should have an exam after the diagnosis and yearly after that.
- Goal: No damage to the back of the eye.
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) blood test.
This test checks for thyroid disease. Having too little or too much thyroid hormone can make it hard to manage your blood sugar.
- How often: Soon after the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, and every 1 or 2 years after that. This test is usually not needed for children with type 2 diabetes.
- Goal: Normal levels of TSH in the blood
- Liver test.
This test checks for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Children who have obesity are more likely to have this condition.
- How often: At diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and every year after that. This test is usually not needed for children who have type 1 diabetes.
- Goal: Normal levels of liver enzymes in the blood
- Celiac Disease.
Your doctor will do a blood test to look for antibodies caused by an abnormal reaction to gluten. Gluten is a protein found in some grains. Celiac disease can damage your child's small intestine and make it hard to absorb nutrients from food. This can cause growth problems. Your child may also need a biopsy of the small intestine.
- How often: Soon after diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Depending on your child's symptoms, at least 2 years after diagnosis and then again after 5 years.
- Goal: Healthy diet and steady growth
- Obstructive sleep apnea screening.
The doctor asks about symptoms, such as paused breathing while sleeping, snoring, morning headaches, and daytime sleepiness.
- How often: At diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and every year after that. This test is usually not needed for children with type 1 diabetes.
- Goal: No signs of sleep apnea
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Where can you learn more?
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