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HEALTH WATCH: Type I Diabetes

Late fall and early spring often spark a spike in Type 1 Diabetes diagnoses in children.

Doctors say it's because seasonal illnesses and viruses can trigger the autoimmune disease to develop.

Kathryn Daniel introduces us to a six year old girl who was diagnosed unusually early with Type 1 Diabetes

When Elizabeth Ellis turned two her health nose-dived.
"She looked diminished and I was prayed, I don't know what to do here. I don't know what's wrong with her."

Mother Jana Ellis took her to the doctor. Elizabeth's' blood sugar was 559, normal levels are between 80 and 120.
The Ellis family is no stranger to Type 1 Diabetes. Jana's husband, Byron was diagnosed as a teen.

Still, Jana says it was overwhelming.
"If I didn't have the prior knowledge base from being with my husband for 10 years, I just can't imagine what it would be like to come into that without knowledge."

Nemours Children's Clinic Pediatric Endocrinologist Howard Heinze says Type 1 Diabetes has a genetic trait that is usually linked paternally.

Jana says Elizabeth felt special to be "like daddy."
"The first time she saw him take his insulin shot, that connection for her was just totally there. Daddy and I have something going on together."

Jana says says being accountable to a little one has made dad a better patient.
"She watches him closely and he takes that to heart."

Elizabeth takes her condition into her own hands. She checks her blood sugar several times a day and can tell when she's high or low.
Today she's a tad bit low and asks for the glucose tablets.

"They just do it and they don't even think about it. I would be sort of wincing, but they just do it."
Jana was a special needs teacher for a decade before Elizabeth's' diagnosis.

"The goal of a special needs teacher is always to help the child achieve independence at whatever level they can."

With that in mind, Jana trained Elizabeth to be self aware about she's feeling and take responsibility for her health.

"She always comes and says, "Hey mom, may I have some insulin before I get this."
Elizabeth wears an insulin pump, she says it's pretty, and it doesn't bother her if other kids wonder what it is.

"No, it doesn't because people don't really ask me and stuff."
Elizabeth manages her diabetes so confidently, Jana's considering a return to the classroom after a homeschooling stint.

Doctor Heinze says all children with chronic illnesses should be empowered and listened to by teachers and caregivers.

"They're eight years old and they're in the third grade and they can handle anything that comes their way."

Jana says she's learned that parents of kids with chronic illnesses must take some time to rest.

"Went on a little day trip alone and it was amazing how that one day of freedom just gave me restorative to be able to come back and go back into it, cause there is no break."

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