90% of parents don’t recognise diabetes in children

Survey reveals mums and dads unaware of four key symptoms

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Around 90% of UK parents are unable to identify the four key symptoms of type 1 diabetes in children, according to research.

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A poll of 1,170 parents conducted by Diabetes UK reports that, despite 2,000 under-18s being diagnosed with the condition each year, mums and dads struggle to spot the signs.

The four key symptoms parents should be looking out for are excessive thirst, frequent urination, weight loss and tiredness.

While many of the respondents were aware that exhaustion and thirst were signs of type 1 diabetes, only 28% identified weight loss as a symptom, while 38% knew to look out for passing urine frequently.

In fact, only 10% of parents polled knew all four symptoms, meaning many children are only diagnosed once they are already seriously ill.

Type 1 Diabetes normally first appears in childhood, when the body starts to destroy its own beta cells in the pancreas and can no longer produce insulin.

If left untreated, the body is unable to break down glucose due to a lack of insulin and begins to break down fat instead, which, in severe cases, can lead to diabetic ketatosis (DKA) – a life threatening condition.

Once identified, Type 1 diabetes can be managed effectively with daily insulin injections as well as a healthy diet and exercise regime. 

Diabetes UK has released this research to kick start an awareness campaign among parents and professionals who work with children.

Chief executive Barbara Young has said, “The symptoms of type 1 diabetes are so obvious and pronounced that there is no reason why every child with the condition cannot be diagnosed straight away.

“As well as making parents and those who look after and work with children aware of the symptoms, we need to increase understanding that a child who has any of the four Ts needs to be tested straight away.”

The four Ts are:

  • Toilet
  • Thirsty
  • Tired
  • Thinner
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