Know The Signs Of Diabetes In Children

Parents and guardians are advised to refresh their memory on the signs and symptoms of type one diabetes in children.

Each year between 100 and 130 children in Northern Ireland develop the condition which cannot be prevented and can become serious if left undiagnosed and untreated.

Someone who knows all too well about how quickly the condition can take affect is Co Down school pupil Claragh Gibney, following her 2016 diagnosis at just nine years of age.

Claragh's mum Teresa explained: "She was a perfectly healthy nine year old. She went to school and attended dance classes; it wasn't until we went on holidays that she started to get sick.

"We noticed her asking for drinks – water, juice or lollypops, anything to quench her thirst. Then she started to go to the toilet a lot, but I thought it was just the heat and because she was drinking so much. A few days later she started becoming very tired, she didn’t want to do anything, it all happened so quickly.

"It was only when we went to the GP, they did a urine sample and requested an emergency blood sample. That was when type 1 diabetes was mentioned."

Symptoms in children and young people can develop over a few days or weeks and parents and carers should look out for the '4Ts':

• Toilet- going to the loo a lot, bed wetting starts unexpectedly;

• Thirsty- child being really thirsty;

• Tired- feeling more tired than usual;

• Thinner- losing weight or looking thinner than normal.

Anyone who notices any of these symptoms is urged to have their child's blood sugar checked by a GP that day.
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Dr Bríd Farrell, Assistant Director of Service Development and Screening at the Public Health Agency (PHA), said: "Children can develop type 1 diabetes at any time.

"We are urging parents to make themselves aware of the symptoms and if you do notice symptoms, I would urge you to get your child's blood sugar checked that day."

Early diagnosis is important in children with type 1 diabetes, otherwise their condition can deteriorate rapidly with serious consequences such as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA occurs when the body starts to run out of insulin, causing harmful substances called ketones to build up in the body, requiring urgent medical attention and hospital admission.

Dr Farrell continued: "If we diagnose type 1 early, we can start early treatment and avoid diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and we can also sometimes avoid hospital admission.

"Keeping an eye out for the 4Ts can result in earlier diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. If parents are concerned about a child they should have their blood glucose (sugar) checked either in the GP surgery or local pharmacy."

Teresa concluded: "With Claragh, all the symptoms didn't present at the same time, it was over the course of two weeks. I would urge parents to make themselves aware of the 4Ts and if they notice any of the symptoms to speak to their GP.

"Claragh is now doing really well, she has an insulin pump, she knows the importance of what she puts into her body, she reads the food packaging and weighs her own food. She does everything that she did before including her dancing, she is just amazing."

As well as the four recognised symptoms, other issues can present themselves where type one diabetes is present. Find out more information online.

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