Support group for parents of children with diabetes

At a time when there is rapid rise in diabetes among children, Baptist Health South Florida offers a support group for the parents of diabetic children.

Judy Waks, registered nurse and Certified Diabetes Educator, runs the group that meets at the Baptist Children’s Diagnostic Center near Country Walk, 13500 SW 152 St., on the second Tuesday of every month from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The group began in January and since then Waks has been trying to get the word out.

“I know there is a need,” she says. “In the last month, I’ve had two or three parents contact me with newly diagnosed children and they were very upset.”

There are two types of diabetes. People with Type One diabetes don’t make insulin. Waks said their insulin producing cells have been destroyed.

“You cannot live without insulin,” she said.

People with Type One depend on insulin injections three to four times a day.

Waks said Type One diabetics need to be careful with their diet, exercise and take their medicine.

“My feeling is that there has been an increase [in the number of children with] Type One,” she said. “It’s not related to their lifestyle. Type One is an autoimmune disease.”

Type Two diabetics can take pills to bring their blood sugar under control. But it can become tricky when you’re dealing with a young child, Waks said.

“You have to try to match the right amount of insulin to go the right type of food,” she said. “It’s a little complicated and it takes a lot of adjustment for the parents. It’s a lifelong disease.”

As a society, as people have become more obese, Type Two diabetes has become a problem. “Type Two in children is epidemic,” she said. “It’s related to lifestyle. It used to be called adult onset.”

The support group is for parents who have children with either Type One or Type Two.

“The parental needs are similar,” Waks said. “The bottom line to both is adjustment of food and exercise and medication. They need all of it.”

Type One diabetics always will need insulin. For Type Two, when a child is put on medication depends on a variety of factors.

“If their sugars aren’t too high, they might say change your diet,” she said. “Diet is very big — diet and exercise. If they can lose weight, they can get their sugar down.”

Waks hopes that the support group will be a venue for parents to share their worries and concerns about dealing with diabetes. She said it is good to get support from another parent who understands what they are going through.

“When you have other parents with some of the same issues, it’s reassuring. This is what I do for my child,” she said. “They have something in common. I’m there to answer questions about the diabetes. Sometimes they just need reassurance they are doing the right things.”

Waks plans to bring in dieticians to talk to the parents or other experts to talk about topics interest like diet or insulin pumps.

For more information, call 786-662- 4895. Waks would like parents to RSVP for meetings by emailing her at judyw@baptisthealth. net.

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