Back to Ask the Diabetes Team Ask the Diabetes Team

From Bastrop, Louisiana, USA:

My six year old has had type 1 diabetes for four years, and my four year old shows symptoms (thirst, mood) but sugars stay below 120 mg/dl [6.7 mmol/L] except when he is taking a steroid for severe eczema, and they are (145-255 mg/dl [8.1-14.2 mmol/L] after three days. The general pediatrician said not to worry, but the endocrinologist said it should not have cause sugars in the 200s mg/dl [11.1 mmol/L] in a normal child. Now, my eight month old has been put on steroids for asthma.

Can steroid use cause onset of diabetes in a genetically predisposed child? Is it worth the risk because the eczema and the asthma symptoms are pretty bad?


What steroids do apart from their anti-inflammatory action is to enhance what is called gluconeogenesis -- the production of glucose from amino acids. This raises blood sugar which calls for an increased insulin response. This can occur in perfectly normal children especially during an infection, but if insulin production is already compromised, as in prediabetes, this may precipitate or hasten the onset of insulin dependence.

In the case of your four year old, I would suggest talking to the doctor about getting an antibody test to see if he really has prediabetes. The chances are only about 1:20, but fasting blood sugars of 120 mg/dl [6.7 mmol/L] are in the realm of impaired glucose tolerance.

With your eight month old, I think you also have to judge whether the benefits of steroids outweigh the rather small, risk that they will precipitate a need for insulin in a predisposed individual.


Original posting 15 Mar 2003
Posted to Research: Causes and Prevention


  Back to Ask the Diabetes Team Return to the Top of This Page

Last Updated: (none)
This Internet site provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child, you should always consult with a physician or other health care professional.

This site is published by T-1 Today, Inc. (d/b/a Children with Diabetes), a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, which is responsible for its contents. Our mission is to provide education and support to families living with type 1 diabetes.
By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use, Legal Notice, and Privacy Policy.
© Children with Diabetes, Inc. 1995-2018. Comments and Feedback.