The Public Health Agency, PHA, is urging parents and professionals to be aware of the early signs and symptoms of childhood diabetes to ensure youngsters are diagnosed quickly and reduce the risk of serious complications.
Around 100 children are diagnosed with the condition every year in Northern Ireland and research shows the earlier a child is identified as having Type 1 diabetes the less likely they are to develop potential life-threatening complications or be admitted to hospital.
Parents are being advised to visit their GP urgently and ask for a diabetes check if their child has any of the following symptoms: increased thirst, bed wetting, excessive tiredness, blurred vision and weight loss.
In order to raise awareness of these signs and symptoms among parents, carers and the medical profession, the PHA has distributed leaflets and posters entitled ‘Children can have diabetes too’ to a variety of settings including GP surgeries, hospital Emergency Departments, paediatricians, pharmacies, schools and pre-schools, women’s groups, libraries, leisure centres and community organisations.
Dr Brid Farrell, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, explained: “Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented but if an early diagnosis is made we can reduce the risk of serious complications and the child may not even need to be admitted to hospital. Diabetes is an uncommon condition in children and many people are not aware of the signs and symptoms. This campaign aims to raise awareness of the symptoms and signs of diabetes to facilitate early diagnosis and intervention.”
Iain Foster, National Director of Diabetes UK Northern Ireland, added: “We’re delighted to join the Public Health Agency in this campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes and help prevent Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) at diagnosis. We would encourage healthcare professionals, parents and teaching staff to make themselves aware of symptoms and to act quickly if they think a child could have diabetes. A simple blood test by a GP can diagnose a child and prevent hospitalisation so the message is be aware of the symptoms and act quickly.”
Contact PHA Press Office on 028 9055 3663