Pediatric Diabetes | Patient Education | UC Davis Children's Hospital

A guide to managing pediatric diabetes

Many people live with diabetes or know someone who is living with diabetes. Treatment looks different for each type of diabetes. With careful attention to a personalized medical plan – as well as maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle – people with diabetes can live long, active, and healthy lives.

The information on this page will help patients and their families learn about diabetes and diabetes management.

Types of diabetes

Type 1 diabetes

Insulin is made by cells in the pancreas called beta cells. In type 1 diabetes, the body’s own immune system starts attacking the beta cells (autoimmune disease). The beta cells are slowly destroyed in the pancreas, which happens over a few months to a few years.

The body breaks down carbohydrates from foods into glucose (sugar), which is needed for energy. Insulin is needed to move the glucose from the blood into the cells of the body. Because the beta cells that make insulin no longer work in people with type 1 diabetes, they need to take insulin to keep blood glucose in a normal range. At this time, insulin can only be given through injection (syringe, insulin pen, or insulin pump).

Type 2 diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, the body may make insulin, but does not make enough or does not use it correctly. This is called insulin resistance. Most people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes still have normal or increased levels of insulin. However, they can no longer make enough insulin to match their body’s resistance to insulin action. Glucose builds up in the blood and causes high blood glucose. Type 2 diabetes is often treated with diet and lifestyle changes. Some people may also take oral medications and/or insulin.

In the United States, more and more adolescents are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Many of these adolescents are overweight (obese). If the child is sick at the time of diagnosis and/or has very high blood glucose levels associated with other symptoms such as weight loss or excessive urination, insulin therapy may be started first. Another reason to start insulin is that not every child who is overweight has type 2 diabetes. Therefore, the doctors may need to run some tests to check that the child does not have type 1 diabetes.

Items needed to manage diabetes

Blood sugar testing:

  • Blood glucose meter (glucometer)
  • Test strips for meter
  • Lancet device (for finger sticks – comes with glucose meter)
  • Lancets

Write down blood glucose results in your diary and bring to clinic. Bring your meter with you to all appointments. Your team cannot make changes to your insulin without the information from your meter.

Learn more about blood glucose testing and goals


  • Basal/24-hour long-acting insulin
  • Rapid-acting insulin/ “day time” insulin
  • Syringes/pens

Learn more all about insulin for children

Other items

  • Glucagon emergency kit
  • Ketostix
  • Batteries (for meter)
  • Glucose tablets or gel or juice
  • Cotton balls
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Sharps disposal container