Share “Tricking diabetes gives children treat”

BY HEATHER WARLICK-MOORE Modified: November 2, 2009 at 1:48 pm •  Published: October 27, 2009
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For Halloween, 5-year-old Emma McCarty will dress as Supergirl. Though she may not have super powers in real life, her mom thinks she’s pretty special.

"There’s just something different about kids with diabetes,” said Jennifer McCarty, vice president of program development for the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Emma was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 2 years old. "We try to treat her the same as any other kid. But she is wise beyond her years.”

McCarty admires the mature way her child deals with diabetes. But for Emma, Halloween candy can be as dangerous as kryptonite is to Supergirl.

Luckily, Emma doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth. She’d rather trick-or-treat for her favorite food, pasta salad, than for candy. But her mom lets her have a moderate helping of candy. The McCartys just make sure to offset that candy with the right dose of insulin.

Emma wears a pink pump that delivers insulin in just the dose she needs to offset any sugar or carbohydrates she’s eaten. It’s a constant job to monitor the insulin and Emma’s diet, but it’s one the family has grown accustomed to.

And Emma knows when her blood sugar is too low — she said she feels tired and hungry. When her blood sugar is too high, she gets a headache.

Beyond the symptoms of too high or too low blood sugar, failure to keep Emma’s insulin regulated could be fatal.

"The bottom line is that she needs insulin to survive,” Jennifer said.

Her recommendation to other parents dealing with type 1 diabetes and Halloween? "Let them be kids and have fun but try to be creative with the candy.”

Type 1 diabetes strikes more than 15,000 American children each year, according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. But by being creative and setting some ground rules, parents, friends and neighbors can make Halloween fun for their diabetic kids.

"Halloween is a hard time for children with type 1 diabetes because they spend 11 months watching their diet and they are hit with a month where the entire focus is how much candy you can get,” said Sean Simpson, executive director of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.