Results from a report into hospital admissions involving children and young people with type 1 diabetes have shown that many are still being diagnosed late, and as a result are at a higher risk of developing a dangerous complication.
The 2017 National Paediatric Diabetes Audit maps out how the rise in type 1 diabetes incidence among children is causing a rise in paediatric type 1 diabetes hospital admissions.
The Audit collected data from between 2012 and 2015 relating to children and young people in Paediatric Day Units in England and Wales, with any type of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes accounts for the vast majority of cases of diabetes in children. Incidence of type 1 diabetes in the UK is growing particularly in children under five.
Children under the age of five are among those at highest risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). The report found that one in four UK children developing type 1 diabetes are diagnosed so late that they are hospitalised with DKA, according to data from between 2012 and 2015.
DKA occurs when a severe lack of insulin means the body cannot use glucose for energy and starts to break down fat instead. DKA is very serious, and can be fatal.
Karen Addington, UK Chief Executive of JDRF said:
“This report shows that too many children are developing diabetic ketoacidosis, which is often down to a lack of understanding of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes. It is crucial that type 1 diabetes is identified early, to reduce the risk of DKA at diagnosis.
“To ensure diagnoses take place earlier we need to develop a greater understanding among both the public and healthcare professionals of the symptoms of type 1: increased thirst, going to the toilet often, tiredness, blurred vision and sudden weight loss.”
The main signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:
- Going to the toilet more. Your body will try to get rid of excess glucose through urination
- Being extremely thirsty. If you’re going to the toilet more, you’ll be very thirsty
- Tiredness. Type 1 diabetes stops your body making the energy it needs, so you’ll be exhausted
- Weight loss. Your body has to get energy from somewhere, so will break down fat stores
- Fruity-smelling breath. If your body continues to operate like this, acid called ketones will build up. This will cause your breath to smell like pear drops, and can also lead to stomach pain. If ketones continue to build up in the blood they cause DKA.
It is important to note that a person with type 1 diabetes may not experience all of these symptoms. If you are experiencing these symptoms you must go to hospital immediately.