November is American Diabetes Month, so we caught up with M. Jennifer Abuzzahab, MD, to learn more about her role at Children’s and what families should know about childhood diabetes.
What is your role at Children’s and where do you work?
I am a pediatric endocrinologist. This means that I study hormones (the text messages that run around in your blood). My primary clinic is at the St. Paul campus, but I also see patients at the Woodbury location and at the Minneapolis clinic.
How did you decide to go into pediatrics?
I love the resilience of kids and the positive energy that they exude; it helps me get through the busy days. I also really like seeing kids grow up.
What are some of the conditions you treat?
I see kids with conditions such as diabetes (high blood sugar), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), thyroid problems, multiple hormone deficiencies following cancer treatment, and growth and puberty disorders. Basically anything that would fit into a Dr. Seuss book: “too much,” “too little,” “too tall” or “too small.”
November is American Diabetes Month. What’s one thing you want families to know about childhood diabetes?
Although there is more type 2 (adult) diabetes in teenagers, the majority of kids still have type 1 diabetes. This means that they have to check their blood sugar several times a day and take a shot of insulin every time they eat – every day, even on vacation. It also means they can have cake and ice cream at birthday parties, but just like everyone else, shouldn’t have cake and ice cream every day.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A doctor… family legend is that I wanted to be a “baby doctor” when I was 3. Both my parents stand by this (and their decision to give me the first name of Mary, but never, ever use it).