A new report by Dr Julie Edge, a consultant paediatric diabetologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital Oxford, has been published in the British Medical Journal. It reports that 25% of newly diagnosed children of all ages are referred late, seriously ill with Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). Many of the affected children are under 5 years old.
Every year about 2,000 children are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes but a quarter of them will be seriously ill with DKA, a metabolic catastrophe, before the diagnosis has been made.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) is the main cause of mortality and morbidity in children with type 1 diabetes. 10 children a year die from DKA in the UK. Most of these deaths are due to cerebral oedema, swelling of the brain tissue, which is more common when DKA occurs.
Type 1 diabetes is five times more common than meningitis, but is not always being recognised by doctors and parents until the child presents with vomiting, abdominal pain and rapid breathing. Tragically, some children are going into a coma and are close to death before they are diagnosed and the correct treatment is given.
Parents are advised to take their children to see a doctor if they notice any symptoms associated with Type 1 diabetes, which can include excessive thirst, frequent urination, bed wetting, weight loss, hunger, blurred vision, abdominal pain, vomiting, thrush, lethargy.