Care at Children's
At Penn State Children’s Hospital, we know that a diagnosis of diabetes can be challenging for you and your child. Our first priority will be to treat your child immediately as an inpatient if he or she is very sick.
After release from the hospital or if your child is not sick when he or she first visits us, we focus on evaluation and education to help your child and your whole family understand diabetes and how to manage it.
Our diabetes education program is certified by the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Providing outpatient education - versus inpatient education - sets us apart from many other medical centers. We find it’s more convenient for our patients, and it keeps children from unnecessary hospital stays.
Diabetes education at the Children’s Hospital involves sessions with members of our diabetes team, which includes pediatric endocrinologists, diabetes nurse educators, dieticians, social workers, and psychologists. Your education session will be one-on-one or perhaps with one other family. You and your child will learn about blood sugar levels, insulin therapy, nutrition, and many other techniques for controlling diabetes to avoid complications.
We provide follow-up classes for continued support, including individual sessions with our diabetes nurse educator to review what you’ve learned, as well as an insulin pump education and support program.
Both common forms of diabetes can occur at any age, but a child is more likely to be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
We treat diabetes in children with a team approach. You, your child, and your entire family are part of that team and are just as important as the medical professionals.
Although there is no cure for diabetes, children with this disease can lead a nearly normal childhood and adolescence if their disorder is kept under control. Keeping diabetes under control focuses on blood sugar levels that are controlled with insulin therapy (injections or a pump) and an appropriate diet with exercise.
Our team will teach you to check your child’s blood sugar level using a blood glucose meter, a computerized device that measures and displays the amount of glucose in a blood sample. If we need a more detailed look at your child’s levels, we may prescribe a wearable continuous glucose monitor that measures blood sugar every few minutes throughout the day and night.
Frequent testing is the only way to make sure that your child's blood sugar level remains within his or her target range.
As you will learn in our education sessions, the amount of insulin your child needs daily is dependent on his or her blood sugar levels. You or your child will either inject the insulin with a syringe or pen device, or it will be administered through a pump on an ongoing basis as needed. The pump is wireless and will be programmed to dispense specific amounts of insulin automatically. You can adjust it to deliver more or less insulin depending on meals, activity level, and blood sugar level.
Ongoing monitoring is a daily reality for children with diabetes. It’s important to take it one day at a time.
Because your child’s diabetes care needs will change as he or she grows and the treatment plan may need to be adjusted, we will schedule office appointments every three months, but our team is available for questions and support at any time.
Diabetes care involves a multidisciplinary team from various departments, including:
- Pediatric Endocrinology
- Social work
- Internal medicine (hospitalists)
Groups, Classes & Support
The following education opportunities are offered through our program:
- One-on-one session with diabetes nurse educator: Individual one-hour session with diabetes nurse educator; review of how to treat high or low blood sugar, sick-day guidelines, etc.
- Diabetes support groups at Hershey Medical Center, please call 717-531-8288
- Insulin pump support group, please call 717- 531-1481 (specifically for people already using insulin pumps)
- Continuous Glucose Monitor call, please call 717-531-4540
- TID and Me de-stress class for tweens and teens living with diabetes, please call 717-531-4540
Please obtain a referral from your physician's office and an authorization from your insurance company to ensure insurance coverage.
Our program is accredited by Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists and recognized by the American Diabetes Association.
Research & Clinical Trials
Our clinical trials office guides participants through the process, from initiation through completion of the study.
Symptoms, Diagnosis & OutlookDiabetes is a chronic disease in which the body cannot regulate the amount of sugar in the blood.
A high blood sugar level can cause several symptoms, including:
- Blurry vision
- Excess thirst
- Frequent urination
- Weight loss
- Because Type 2 diabetes develops slowly, some people with high blood sugar have no symptoms.
Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes develop over a short period. People may be very sick by the time they are diagnosed.
Exams & Diagnostic Tests
Type 2 diabetes may be reversed with lifestyle changes, especially losing weight with exercise and by eating healthier foods. Some cases of Type 2 diabetes can also be improved with weight-loss surgery.
There is no cure for Type 1 diabetes.
Treating either Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes involves medicines, diet, and exercise to control blood sugar level.
Everyone with diabetes should receive proper education and support about the best ways to manage their diabetes. Ask your provider about seeing a diabetes nurse educator.
Getting better control over your blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels helps reduce the risk of kidney disease, eye disease, nervous system disease, heart attack, and stroke.
To prevent diabetes complications, visit your provider at least 2 to 4 times a year. Talk about any problems you are having. Follow your provider's instructions on managing your diabetes.
Outlook & Prognosis
Diabetes is a life-long disease and there is no cure.
Tight control of blood glucose can prevent or delay diabetes complications. But these problems can occur, even in people with good diabetes control.