Hundreds of children across the UK are being rushed to hospital every year to be treated for serious complications of undiagnosed type 1 diabetes, it has been revealed.
Around 2,000 people under the age of 16 are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes every year in Britain. But charity group Diabetes UK warns that many more cases are going unnoticed, meaning up to 500 kids a year only learn they have the lifelong, autoimmune disease after developing the potentially fatal complication diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
In fact, a study of childhood cases of type 1 diabetes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, found that very young children and babies were far more likely to be diagnosed with the condition following the development of DKA.
DKA occurs when the body has no insulin to use, and switches to burning fatty acids and producing acidic ketones. It can cause severe illness and lead to swelling of the brain, and even death.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Diabetes UK chief executive Barbara Young said it was “appalling” that hundreds of children were becoming “seriously ill completely needlessly”.
She added: “Symptoms of type 1 are so obvious and pronounced that there is no reason why every child with the condition cannot be diagnosed straight away.
“But the stark reality is that a quarter of children with type 1 diabetes become seriously unwell before being diagnosed. We need to bring this appalling situation to an end.”
The major signs of type 1 diabetes include going to the toilet more often than normal, extreme tiredness, increased thirst and a thinner body caused by unexplained weight loss. These symptoms are often referred to as the 4Ts of type 1 diabetes.
The typical symptoms of DKA include dehydration, nausea, confusion, and deep laboured breathing.

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