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Diabetes & Endocrinology

Pediatric endocrinology is a branch of medicine that deals with disorders of the endocrine system in infants, children and adolescents. The endocrine system consists of glands that secrete hormones regulating metabolism, growth and development. One of the key disorders that IU Health specialists in this field diagnose and treat is diabetes, but many other conditions also fall within the scope of pediatric endocrinology. Examples include hypothyroidism, in which the thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone, and precocious puberty, in which sexual and physical maturation begins unusually early. In children and adolescents, problems with puberty and growth can suggest an endocrine disorder. In fact, pediatric endocrinologists train for several years beyond medical school in order to understand the specific endocrine disorders that affect children and the ways that this organ system functions during growth and development.

Diabetes is a condition in which the level of sugar in the blood (glucose) is elevated because it is not being controlled by the hormone insulin. When children have this disorder, the diagnosis is typically type 1 diabetes, when the body fails to make insulin. In addition to high blood sugar, symptoms can include intense thirst, frequent urination, dehydration, fatigue and excessive sugar in the urine. Extreme fluctuations in blood sugar can cause ketoacidosis (diabetic coma) and other serious problems. Long-term complications of poorly controlled pediatric diabetes can include kidney disease, heart disease and problems of the eyes, feet and nerves.

Children and adolescents can also develop type 2 diabetes. In this condition, the body produces insulin, but it either fails to produce enough or it is unable to properly use insulin. Decreased physical activity and the rise of obesity in childhood are thought to be factors in the rising prevalence of this type of diabetes.

In addition to diabetes, conditions that pediatric endocrinologists diagnose and treat include:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Congenital hypothyroidism
  • Precocious puberty
  • Delayed puberty
  • Pituitary problems
  • Short stature
  • Disorders of sex development/ambiguous genitalia
  • Turner syndrome
  • Calcium and bone problems
  • Adrenal insufficiency

Based at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, our pediatric diabetes and endocrinology team provides both inpatient and outpatient care and works to create an individualized care plan for your child. Our services in this medical specialty are ranked among the top 10 in the country on the U.S.News & World Report Best Children’s Hospitals list. Our pediatric endocrinologists are board-certified pediatricians who have received extensive training in pediatric endocrinology and diabetology (the study of diabetes). In addition to physicians, our team includes pediatric nurse specialists, dietitians, and social workers. We work closely with your child’s referring physician and offer specialized educational services to support your child and your entire family.

Through our affiliation with the Indiana University School of Medicine Division of Endocrinology, our pediatric diabetes specialists and endocrinologists carry out research to find new ways of caring for children with endocrine conditions. Our experts also take an active role in preparing the next generation of pediatric diabetes and endocrinology specialists.

Most patients come to us through referrals by their primary care physicians. If you suspect that your child has diabetes or another endocrine disorder, please start by consulting with your child’s primary care provider.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Diabetes & Endocrinology Treatment Information

The pediatric diabetes and endocrinology specialists at IU Health provide care based on current guidelines and the preferences of you and your child. Examples of our services include:

Diabetes & Endocrinology Locations & Physicians

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Diabetes & Endocrinology Support Services

More information on endocrine conditions that affect children is available from various national organizations. The following sites can help families to understand pediatric diabetes and other endocrine disorders, choose appropriate treatments and find support in their communities.