Diabetes and Puberty

Laura Gandrud, MD

Puberty brings about a lot of changes in an adolescent’s body. One of these changes is how the body handles insulin. With the beginning of puberty, levels of growth hormone and pubertal hormones increase and adolescents develop resistance to insulin. Because of this, adolescents with diabetes will require significantly more insulin during puberty. This resistance is clinically insignificant in kids who don’t have diabetes. As your child grows and goes through puberty, consistent review of blood glucoses to identify patterns is even more important.

For girls, puberty ushers in another important change: the beginning of monthly periods. Periods can have a significant impact on blood sugars. While some girls will have high blood sugars during periods, others will have low blood sugars and some will even have a combination. It is important to first identify any consistent blood sugar patterns associated with monthly periods. Adolescents should consider keeping a menstrual log, tracking the days when menstrual bleeding, spotting and/or cramping occur. There are smart phone applications which help girls track their periods electronically, but even a written log on paper is more than adequate. Parents can help by keeping logs of blood sugars and insulin doses, before, during and after menses. Compare blood sugar data with your child’s menstrual data for a few months and look for patterns. If highs or lows are consistently noted during periods, a plan for insulin dose changes at certain times can be made, with the help of the diabetes doctor or nurse.

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Nels Thompson