Diabetes Type 1

Being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes can be a life-changing event. We understand how overwhelming a new diagnosis of diabetes can be, and we are here to provide our patients and families with the support and care needed throughout your child’s diabetes journey.

At CHOC, we offer the only comprehensive, multidisciplinary diabetes program in Orange County that provides education for the patient and family every step of the way.

young diabetic girl checking blood sugar levels

What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic (long-term) autoimmune disease. Insulin producing cells in the pancreas are affected which results in lifelong insulin dependence. Our bodies need insulin to transport sugar (glucose) which is our main source of energy, from the bloodstream into the cells. We get most of our glucose from the food we eat. Without insulin, glucose cannot be transported into the cells where it is needed, causing glucose levels to increase in the bloodstream, otherwise known as hyperglycemia or high blood sugar. If high blood sugar is untreated, it can lead to complications and could be life-threatening.

Because individuals with type 1 diabetes are no longer able to produce enough insulin, their bodies need to be given insulin from other sources, i.e. insulin delivered via injections or insulin pumps.

How do you get type 1 diabetes?

Getting type 1 diabetes is not anyone’s fault. It is not caused from eating or drinking a lot of sugar and it is not something that is contagious.

Experts don’t know the exact cause(s) of type 1 diabetes, but ongoing research suggests that there is likely an inherited tendency or predisposition for developing it along with a multitude of environmental factors. Research continues to look for ways to delay, prevent and ultimately find a cure for diabetes. CHOC’s Endocrine and Research departments are part of many ongoing research projects and clinical trials related to diabetes.

What are the common symptoms?

The symptoms of diabetes are related to the high blood sugar. These symptoms often present suddenly – sometimes resembling a bladder infection or flu-like symptoms in children. The most common symptoms are:

  • Unusual increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger (usually with unintended weight loss)
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Extreme weakness and fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Irritability and mood changes

What does CHOC offer for type 1 diabetes?

For newly diagnosed families, CHOC’s multidisciplinary diabetes program provides support and comprehensive education for patients and their families while they are in the hospital. This includes teaching the necessary skills to safely manage diabetes once you go home. Some of these skills include:

  • Learning about insulin (types of insulin used, how to adjust doses of insulin and how to give injections)
  • Monitoring glucose levels (how to use a glucose meter)
  • Healthy food choices (including carbohydrate counting)
  • How to manage diabetes with exercise/activity, traveling and at school
  • Managing diabetes while sick (learning how prevent and treat high and low blood sugars)

After diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, your child will have close follow-up with many members of our diabetes team. Our team of board-certified endocrinologists and nurse practitioners will meet with your child for your diabetes follow-up clinic visits every 3-4 months. At those visits, you may also see one of the diabetes educators, dietitians, social workers, and/or psychologists.

Our diabetes program also provides ongoing education and resources to help patients and families thrive with diabetes once they leave the hospital.

Living with Diabetes: One Child's Perspective

CHOC patient, Ava Hata, sheds light on living with Type 1 diabetes, and what she and her family are doing to be a positive role model for others.

Smiling Ava with her dog

The CHOC Difference

CHOC is ranked as one of the top endocrinology programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

Treating endocrine disorders in children and teens can be complex and often requires a team of caregivers. At CHOC, our board-certified endocrinologists understand the specialized expertise and multidisciplinary approach needed to care for endocrine disorders.

CHOC specialists work together as a team to discuss your child’s case and determine the best course of treatment. Depending on your child’s condition, your appointment may include CHOC experts from our many other specialties. Our team also collaborates with psychologists, social workersdietitians and child life specialists to develop a unique treatment plan for your child.

Our Diabetes Educators

Allyson McDaniel, BSN, RN, CDCES
Rachel Sanchez, BSN, RN, CDCES
Reyna Gamboa-Perez, BSN, RN, CDCES
Lisa Jenson, BSN, RN, CDCES
Samantha Thompson, RD, CDCES
Rebeca Quintana, BSN, RN, CDCES
Leah Blalock, MS, RD, CDCES
Claire Vercammen, BSN, RN, CDCES
Brenda Amador-Rivera, BSN, RN, CDCES
Megan Huang, MSN, RN
Katia Torosian, BSN, RN, CDCES

Our Social Workers

Bobbi McGann, LCSW
Jennifer Blair, MSW, ACSW (Transition Coordinator)
Erick Renderos, MSW, ACSW
Joshua Letuligasenoa, LCSW

US News and World Report Best Children's Hospitals Diabetes & Endocrinology