Call for a million people to get type 1 aware

Released 14/06/2012

With a quarter of type 1 diabetes cases going undiagnosed until children are taken to A&E, two charities, this Diabetes Week, are calling on the nation to become ‘type 1 aware' by watching a video outlining the symptoms

A quarter of children with type 1 diabetes only find out they have it when they're hospitalised

People are being urged to take five minutes from their busy lives to make themselves aware of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes and so prevent the trauma of late diagnosis by watching a new online video.

Diabetes UK and JDRF, the type 1 diabetes charity, have today launched a video featuring children living with type 1 diabetes and showing the most common symptoms of the condition.

About 2,000 children a year are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, which means it is five times more common in children than bacterial meningitis. But despite this, a quarter of children are only diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when they are hospitalised. The severe lack of insulin within the body upsets the body's normal chemical balance and causes ketones to be produced. These are poisonous chemicals which, if left unchecked, and combined with high blood glucose levels, can result in serious illness, and even coma and death. This is known as diabetic ketoacidosis.

Although there is currently no cure for type 1 diabetes, early diagnosis can prevent emergency hospitalisation. This is why, during Diabetes Week, the two charities have produced the new video to raise awareness among parents, carers, teachers and healthcare professionals that symptoms of the condition include:

• Increased thirst
• Increased urination
• Weight loss
• Extreme tiredness.

By aiming to get one million people to watch the video before World Diabetes Day in November, they hope to raise awareness of the symptoms of the condition. If people know the symptoms then they are much more likely to be diagnosed before they reach life threatening diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and so reduce their chances of becoming seriously ill.

Karen Addington, chief executive, JDRF, said: "If a child is showing any of these symptoms, it's vital that they get medical attention immediately, even waiting 24 hours can be dangerous. A simple finger prick blood glucose test can diagnose type 1 diabetes instantly, and early diagnosis can prevent a child from becoming very ill, and even save their life."

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: "A late diagnosis is not only incredibly frightening for both parents and children, but it is also very dangerous. This is why we want one million people to watch the film and become type 1 aware so that as many children with type 1 can get diagnosed before they reach this point. The fact that a quarter of children only find out they have type 1 diabetes when they are already seriously ill shows that things urgently need to improve and that is why we want as many people who work with or care for children as possible to make sure they see this video.''

Jacqui Double, mother of two boys with type 1 diabetes, said: "When my son Tom was diagnosed, he was in a coma, had brain swelling and was close to death. He'd been ill for several weeks, but I didn't know the symptoms well enough to insist his doctors test for type 1 diabetes. Five years later, I spotted the early symptoms of type 1 in his older brother Joe. I took him straight to hospital and he was diagnosed very early, before DKA set in. When Tom was diagnosed he was in a coma; when Joe was diagnosed he was well enough to go camping. I cannot stress enough how important it is that type 1 diabetes is caught early. I don't want another parent to face the same fear of losing their child."

The video, ‘I'm type 1 aware. Are You?', is available to watch at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYlQTylh_0M.

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