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From Harare, Zimbabwe:

Our doctor has advised us that our 6 year old daughter may develop diabetes, as her pancreas is underfunctioning. Coulevelop diabetes, as her pancreas is underfunctioning. Could you tell us a bit more about this and what diet would you recommend, and what foods to avoid? She suffers terrible from thrush infections, so is eating no bread because of the yeast. The doctor also told us that artificial sweeteners are not good for her. Sugar-free/diabetic food is hard to come by in this country.


The first step is to talk to your daughter's doctor and find out exactly what he means by saying "her pancreas is underfunctioning." Broadly speaking, the pancreas has two roles, the so-called exocrine pancreas produces enzymes that are needed in intestinal digestion whilst the endocrine pancreas produces hormones that govern sugar metabolism. It is easy to test and see whether your daughter has diabetes now by looking for sugar in the urine or measuring blood sugar. In Europe, North America, and Europe, it is also possible to test for antibodies to determine whether a child is going to get Type 1 Diabetes. I realise that this test is unlikely to be available in Zimbabwe; but if you have a friend in the U.S. they could call 1-800-425-8361 to find out exactly what sort of blood sample is required and how it should be shipped.

In the meantime, the thrush should be easy to treat and it is important to do so. Artificial sweeteners are not contraindicated and for the time being I see no reason for any special diet and especially not for diabetic foods.

Finally, I do think that it is important to answer these questions. Under very rare circumstances it is possible that your daughter is indeed in the earliest stages of clinical diabetes and that the thrush and any digestive problems she may have are part of it.


Original posting 17 Jun 97


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