A few months ago, our Dealing with Diabetes segment told you about the lack of doctors who specialize in treating children with diabetes -- there was only one. Now, there are two. A move in the right direction anyway! In this week's report, we meet the newest pediatric endocrinologist.
When a child has diabetes, it affects the whole family. The chronic disease requires help and vigilance from siblings and parents. So, aside from medical care, Dr. Asheesh Dewan instructs the rest of the family about dealing with diabetes.
"The whole family essentially has to go on the diabetic diet. Because if the food that is considered taboo is in the house, how would you expect a child to exert control," says Dr. Dewan, a pediatric endocrinologist who has just arrived in Las Vegas from Children's Hospital, San Diego.
"In San Diego, which is roughly about the same population as Las Vegas, we have eight pediactric endocrinologists. And here in the state of Nevada, there was one... for a period of time. So I'd be the second one in the state of Nevada."
Endocrinologists treat diabetes among other diseases because it's caused by problems with insulin, a hormone secreted by the endocrine glands. And treating children with diabetes is very different from treating adults.
"The hormone needs are different in youth as it is in adults because there's so much growing to do. And so the signals are different for growing and maturity and puberty. It's all a whole different ball game," says Dr. Dewan.
Dr. Dewan adds that one of the biggest challenges is to convince his young patients that by managing their condition now, they stand a better chance of avoiding serious complications later in life. "Especially at the younger ages, we really want to keep them in good control so that when the cure does come, and it will come in their lifetime, then they can take full advantage of it. Their body will be in the best shape to take advantage of it."
Until there is a cure, managing both type-one and type-two diabetes remains a lifelong committment. But not necessarily a constraint.
"Our goal is to make diabetes the smallest footprint, the smallest impact on the life as possible, while maintaining good care. So that way, the child can still be a child."
Dr. Dewan hopes to bring to the area other pediatric diabetes specialtists, including dieticians.
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