Doctors at Northampton General Hospital have seen a significant increase in the number of new diagnoses of type 1 diabetes in children in the last three months.
New research shows that the hospital have seen 19 new diagnoses of type 1 diabetes in the last three months, compared with a normal average of less than 30 for the whole year.
As many as one in four children and young people and one in three children under five years old are only diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when they are in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a life-threatening condition that requires urgent medical attention.
Consultant paediatrician at the hospital, Dr Anne Smith, said: “Of the recent 19 cases, nine children have been in DKA, and three of those have ended up very unwell and requiring paediatric intensive care. I can only recall two previous young people requiring a similar ITU admission in the past ten years.”
The figures come as the Diabetes UK charity launches a campaign to raise awareness about the symptoms of diabetes, by referring to them at the four Ts, going to the toilet a lot, being very thirsty, feeling more tired than usual and losing weight.
Dr Smith said: “We wholeheartedly support the national campaign by Diabetes UK to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes in children. We believe that everyone who knows a child, of any age, should be aware of the symptoms, remember them and know what to do if they spot them.”
She said if a child shows any of the four T symtoms they should be taken to the doctor for a finger-prick blood test to identify if they have type 1 diabetes there and then.
She added: “If the result indicates type 1 diabetes, the GP should refer the child to a specialist paediatric diabetes team the same day so they get immediate treatment. That way we can bring their diabetes under control and prevent them becoming seriously ill with DKA.”
The vast majority of children with diabetes have type 1, which isn’t linked to weight or lifestyle at all.
The cause is thought to involve a combination of genes and environmental triggers.