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Diabetes and Your Child: Tests and Vaccines

Taking care of your child’s diabetes every day helps keep them healthy. It also lowers the risk of health problems for them later in life. But most children with diabetes also need to see their healthcare provider for checkups at least 4 times a year. Your child will need some tests. These tests help show if your child’s treatment plan is working. The provider will also keep your child up to date with needed shots (vaccines).

Tests

Healthcare provider measuring girl's height.

These are the most common tests that children with diabetes need. These tests should be done as often as stated below, unless the healthcare team gives you other advice:

  • Height and weight (every visit). Checking your child’s growth tells you if your child’s overall health is good.

  • Blood pressure (every visit). Blood pressure checks are used to watch the health of your child’s heart and blood vessels.

  • A1C (every 3 months). This test measures your child’s average blood sugar level over a few months.

  • Urine albumin and albumin to creatinine ratio (ACR) tests (1 time a year). This test shows if your child’s kidneys are working well.

  • Lipids (every 1 to 2 years). This test looks at blood fats (lipid levels) to check blood vessel health.

  • Thyroid function (1 time a year). This test checks the level of your child’s thyroid hormone, which helps with growth. People who have diabetes are more likely to lose their ability to make thyroid hormone.

  • Celiac disease (1 time a year, if needed). This test checks for an antibody. The antibody may mean that your child’s digestive system is not working well because of an allergy to gluten in wheat. About 10% of people with type 1 diabetes have celiac disease.

  • Dilated eye exam (at first, 5 years after diagnosis). Your child’s healthcare provider might advise testing earlier or more often. Eye exams look for damage to the blood vessels in the eyes (retinopathy).

  • Feet (every visit). The feet are checked for pressure areas, injuries, or sores.

Vaccines

Your child should get the vaccines below. These are in addition to the recommended routine childhood vaccines:

  • Influenza vaccine (1 time a year). This is also called a flu shot. Having the flu can make it harder to keep your child’s blood sugar levels healthy.

  • Pneumonia (at least 1 time, then as needed). Pneumonia can be a serious problem for children with diabetes. Ask your child’s healthcare provider how often your child needs this vaccine.

Seeing the dentist

Your child should see a dentist at least 2 times a year. This is because high blood sugar can harm your child’s teeth and gums over time. Poor dental care at home can also raise blood sugar. Make sure your child brushes and flosses their teeth at least 2 times a day. Tell anyone who works on your child’s teeth that your child has diabetes.

Where to learn more

For more information about diabetes, visit these websites:

  • American Diabetes Association  www.diabetes.org

  • Children with Diabetes  www.childrenwithdiabetes.com

  • Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation www.jdrf.org

  • American Association of Diabetes Educators  www.aadenet.org

  • American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists  www.aace.com

  • Endocrine Society www.endocrine.org/topics/diabetes

  • National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse  www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov

 

This sheet does not give all the information you need to care for your child with diabetes. Ask your child’s healthcare provider for more information.

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Robert Hurd MD
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2022
© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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