From Colleen Brannan, a Charlotte chapter board member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF):
As a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes, I'd like your readers to know that November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Diabetes in both forms – Type 1 and Type 2 – is the most costly chronic disease, affecting nearly 21 million Americans.
My first grader, Nicholas, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes a little more than a year ago at age 5. Since that dark day, which robbed our son of a care-free childhood by making him insulin-dependent for life, we decided we would do everything possible to find a cure.
The JDRF was founded in 1970 by the parents of children with Type 1 (often called juvenile) diabetes – which strikes children suddenly and carries the constant threat of devastating complications. Type 1 diabetes, the most severe form of the disease, requires daily multiple insulin injections, a rigorous meal plan and tight control of blood sugar levels. Being a parent of a child with Type 1 diabetes usually means many sleepless nights, constantly checking my child's blood sugar level while he's asleep, in fear of seizures and comas that can happen overnight. For those with Type 1 diabetes, life is a never-ending routine of finger sticks and insulin injections just to stay alive.
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More than 1.5 million people are diagnosed with diabetes each year. The increasing rate of obesity among young adults only exacerbates the rising cases of Type 2 diabetes – which correlates directly with one's diet.
As the leading cause of kidney failure, adult blindness, and non-traumatic amputations, and a leading cause of nerve damage, stroke and heart attacks, it is no wonder that diabetes accounts for $132 billion in health care costs a year.
Friday will mark the second World Diabetes Day observed by the United Nations, an important milestone in recognizing diabetes as an epidemic and elevating it to the same threat level as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
My hope is to inform everyone about the disease's devastating effects and the enormous toll it places on the economy.