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Feature Article

What’s the GP’s role in treating childhood diabetes?

Martyn Sulway

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Abstract

Diabetes in children and adolescents is best managed by an interdisciplinary team of professionals experienced in treating diabetes in this age group. Nevertheless, the general practitioner can follow 10 valuable steps to complement the specialist care of children or teenagers with diabetes.

Key Points

  • As providers of primary care for the family, GPs have a continuing opportunity to contribute to the care of children with diabetes.
  • Early diagnosis and referral of children with diabetes is essential; some children may die if treatment is delayed.
  • GPs have an important role in providing advice to parents; at the time of diagnosis parents need only basic survival education, but later they need more detailed advice on the child’s re-entry to the community and how to manage hypoglycaemia and sick days.
  • GPs should appreciate realistic treatment goals for children with diabetes and be aware of the indications for urgent hospitalisation.
  • Paediatric diabetes units in major hospitals or outreach programs supplied by these units provide an invaluable service that should be utilised.

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