Endocrinology and Diabetes
The Endocrinology and Diabetes team at Seattle Children’s provides long-term care for children and teens who have issues with growth, puberty, diabetes or other disorders related to hormones and the glands that make them.
We work closely with you and your child’s primary care provider to help your child thrive. We partner with you over the long term, with resources for patients and families such as:
- Sick Day Management Guidelines (PDF) (Spanish)
- Your Insulin Pump (PDF) (Spanish)
- Classes and workshops
Why choose Seattle Children’s Endocrinology and Diabetes program?
In 2019, U.S. News & World Report ranked our Diabetes and Endocrinology Program among the top 10 in the nation, and named the hospital to the Honor Roll of the country's 10 best pediatric hospitals. Treating children and teens with endocrine conditions takes providers with different skills and knowledge. We work as a team to improve your child’s quality of life, not just meet their medical needs. Our team includes doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, certified diabetes educators, dietitians and social workers.
- We care for your child while helping you and them learn how best to manage their condition. We help you fully understand treatment options and make choices that are right for your family.
- Our team helps your family through the challenges of your child’s condition. We link you to community resources and support groups.
- As they get older, your child plays a larger role in their care. With UW Medicine, we created the Adolescent and Young Adult Diabetes Transition Clinic. The team helps your teen take charge of managing their diabetes and make the change to adult care.
- At Seattle Children’s, we work with many children and families from around the Northwest and beyond. We can help with financial counseling, schooling, housing, transportation, interpreter services and spiritual care. Read about our services for patients and families.
Seattle Children’s doctor-scientists work to improve treatment and quality of life for children and teens with diabetes. What we learn through research affects the care we give all children.
- Our research team may ask your family if you want to take part in research studies. You always have a choice. Some studies collect information. Others test new medicines or treatments in people to make sure they are safe and see how well they work. Learn about taking part in research at Seattle Children’s.
- In current studies, we are collecting information about complications of diabetes, quality of life, quality of care and other factors. The largest study is called SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth. This national multicenter study aims to understand more about diabetes among children and young adults in the United States. More than 35,000 youth with diabetes have taken part so far. SEARCH has helped determine the extent of diabetes in the community and its impact on different groups of people. This data has helped shape public health policies for diabetes prevention and treatment.
- Learn more about current diabetes research studies at Seattle Children’s.
- In work that holds promise for curing type 1 diabetes, scientists aim to reprogram T cells so they protect the pancreas, instead of attacking cells that make insulin. This research uses gene-editing techniques pioneered at Seattle Children’s. Read about new immunotherapies under way for type 1 diabetes.
Services We Offer
Our goal is to make it easier for you and your child to manage their diabetes. When your child is first diagnosed with diabetes, we teach you and your child about their condition and how to manage it with diet, medicine and blood testing. This teaching happens in the hospital for some families and in a classroom for others. All during your child’s care, we work with your family to keep your child healthy. Depending on your needs, you can take classes for kids and families living with diabetes or meet one-on-one with a certified diabetes educator, dietitian, social worker or psychologist.
Seattle Children’s has an expert team that gives compassionate, evidence-based care for babies, children and teens with all types of Differences in Sex Development (DSDs).
Our Insulin Resistance team works closely with children who have insulin resistance. This means the hormone insulin cannot keep the child’s blood sugar (glucose) levels normal after they eat or drink. The goal is to prevent diabetes.
Our pediatric specialists work together to give you and your child the best care. The team includes:
- Doctor (endocrinologist) or nurse practitioner to find and check on risk factors related to obesity and insulin resistance. These include changes in liver enzymes, blood pressure and levels of sugars and fats (lipids) in the blood.
- Dietitian to help families make healthy food choices and improve their eating habits.
- Social worker to help families make behavior changes and link you with community resources if needed.
- Athletic trainer to create an exercise plan tailored to your child.
As your child gets older, we help them play a larger role in their diabetes care. To help teens make the change to an adult healthcare provider, we have teamed up with UW Medicine to create the Adolescent and Young Adult Diabetes Transition Clinic. Teens get help dealing with insurance, making appointments, managing supplies and finding support at school or in the community. The team includes doctors (both adult and pediatric endocrinologists), a psychologist, a nurse educator, a dietitian and a social worker. Patients also have the option to take part in research studies.
Our Lipid Disorders team diagnoses and cares for children who have abnormal levels of fats in their blood. These include cholesterol and triglycerides. We have excellent results improving the health of children with abnormal blood fats. Our goal is to prevent early heart attack, stroke and diabetes, which can happen if blood fats are not controlled.
Our Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) Clinic brings together experts in many specialties to care for children and teens with PWS. This genetic disorder affects many parts of the body. There is no cure for PWS, but we treat the many health problems that often affect young people with it.
Seattle Children’s has the only multidisciplinary program in the Pacific Northwest that specializes in children and teens with thyroid conditions. The Thyroid Program brings together experts from endocrinology, otolaryngology, general surgery, oncology and other fields to diagnose and treat all types of thyroid conditions. We tailor treatment to your child’s age and the needs of their growing body.
Turner syndrome happens if a girl is born with only 1 X chromosome instead of 2 or is missing part of an X chromosome. Girls with Turner syndrome tend to be shorter than average, and most do not go through typical puberty. Our Turner Syndrome Clinic team is experienced in caring for girls with Turner syndrome from birth through age 21.
Conditions We Care For
We care for children and teens with a broad range of endocrine disorders, including:
The adrenal glands release hormones that control many important functions, including puberty and your child’s response to stress. Your child may have health problems if their adrenal glands do not work right. The type of problem depends on which hormone is affected. For example, Cushing’s syndrome happens when the body makes too much of the stress hormone called cortisol. Adrenal insufficiency happens when the body makes too little cortisol.
The minerals calcium and phosphorus are important to many parts of the body. Calcium helps with how the brain, heart and muscles work. Together, calcium and phosphorus build strong teeth and bones. Many problems can happen when levels of calcium and phosphorus are too high (hypercalcemia and hyperphosphatemia) or too low (hypocalcemia and hypophosphatemia). Calcium and phosphorus disorders are often caused by problems with the parathyroid glands or how the body handles vitamin D.
Diabetes causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to get too high. In type 1 diabetes, blood sugar levels rise because the body has stopped making enough of the hormone called insulin. The job of insulin is to move sugar from the blood into cells. Type 1 diabetes is most often found when a person is a child or young adult. Read more.
Diabetes causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to become too high. In type 2 diabetes, the body does not respond properly to the hormone called insulin. Glucose is less able to enter the cells and supply energy. This makes blood sugar levels rise. Read more.
The gonads – testes in boys and ovaries in girls – make most of the body’s sex hormones. Health problems can happen if the gonads make too little hormone (hypogonadism) or too much (hypergonadism). In girls, hypogonadism during childhood slows growth and stops menstruation and breast development. In boys, too little sex hormone during childhood slows growth of muscles and facial hair and results in short height. In both boys and girls, too much of the hormones can speed sexual development.
A growth disorder is any problem in babies, children or teens that prevents them from having typical growth. There are many causes of growth disorders, including problems that affect hormones (endocrine diseases, such as hypothyroidism). Growth hormone deficiency happens when the pituitary gland does not produce enough of the hormone needed for normal growth.
When a child has insulin resistance, a hormone called insulin cannot keep their blood sugar (glucose) levels normal after they eat or drink. Insulin is made in the pancreas gland. Insulin removes sugar from the blood and turns it into energy. When insulin does not work right, the body tries to help by making more. This extra insulin keeps blood sugars normal for a while. But over time, the pancreas cannot make enough insulin. Blood sugar levels get too high, which can develop into type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar levels can damage your child’s eyes, kidneys, heart and nerves. However, with a healthy diet and exercise, it is possible to reverse insulin resistance and prevent type 2 diabetes.
Lipids are fatty substances, such as cholesterol (kuh-LES-tuh-rawl) and triglycerides (TRY-glis-eh-rides). In lipid disorders, fats in the blood are not at normal levels, usually too high. Some lipid disorders happen because a child has another condition that increases their blood fats. Being overweight also raises the risk of high lipid levels. High blood cholesterol increases the chance of having an early heart attack or stroke. Our Lipid Disorders team treats children and teens with these conditions.
Puberty is the time of life when your child becomes mature sexually. Most often, it happens between ages 9 and 14 years for girls and ages 11 and 16 years for boys. If a child starts puberty very early or late, there may be a problem with how their body makes and uses hormones. Puberty that starts very early – before age 8 in girls and before age 9 in boys – is called precocious puberty. Puberty that starts late is called delayed puberty. For boys, the sign of delayed puberty is testicles that have not grown larger by age 14. Signs in girls are not having their first period (menstruation) by age 16 or breast development by age 14. See information on classes for girls who start puberty early.
This genetic disorder affects many parts of the body. One of the main symptoms is overeating because the part of the brain that controls feelings of hunger does not work right. Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) may cause many other health problems. These include obesity, hormone imbalances that can affect growth or sexual development, type 2 diabetes, difficulty controlling emotions, intellectual disability and breathing issues during sleep. Our Prader-Willi Syndrome Clinic brings together experts in many specialties to care for children and teens with PWS.
The thyroid gland makes hormones that help control how the body turns food into energy (metabolism). There are 2 main types of thyroid conditions. Hyperthyroidism is when the gland releases too much thyroid hormone. This can cause your child to stop gaining weight as they grow. Hypothyroidism means too little hormone is in your child’s blood. This can slow growth and delay puberty. Read more about thyroid conditions and Seattle Children's Thyroid Program.
Scheduling an Appointment With Endocrinology and Diabetes
- If you would like a referral to the Endocrinology and Diabetes Program, talk to your primary care provider.
- If you already have a referral, please contact us at 206-987-2640 to schedule an appointment.
- If you have an appointment, learn about what to expect and how to prepare.
- Learn about endocrinology and diabetes resources such as useful links, videos and recommended reading for you and your family.
- Providers, see how to refer a patient.
Take Part in Research
We provide care in Seattle and 6 other cities in Washington state. See our locations.
Providers, see how to refer a patient.