A new poll suggests that less than one in six parents would recognise the four major symptoms of type 1 diabetes in their child.
The survey, conducted by Ipsos Mori, assessed the diabetes awareness of 1,088 parents. Only 15 per cent of them were aware of all four symptoms.
The symptoms are:
Polyuria (unusually frequent urination)
Polydipsia (excessive thirst)
Feeling abnormally tired all the time
Muscle loss and inexplicable weight loss
Although the results of the survey are worrying, they demonstrate improvement: in 2012, only nine per cent of parents would have been able to recognise the symptoms in their child.
Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, believes that, despite this improvement, there is a huge amount of work to do.
“At the moment there are too many children who are not diagnosed until they are already seriously ill, and this will continue until there is a much better public understanding of the symptoms of type 1,” she said.
“The knowledge that [parents] need to take their child to the GP straight away can save lives, as children with undiagnosed type 1 can become seriously ill very quickly.”
Left undiagnosed and untreated, type 1 diabetes can have extremely serious effects on children. If parents notice that their child’s diabetes symptoms are combined with a serious loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, a temperature, pains in the stomach, or a fruity smell in the breath, they should seek medical attention immediately. These are potentially signs of diabetic ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition that can be life threatening if medical treatment is not provided immediately.
Understanding and recognising the four major symptoms of type 1 diabetes can ensure that children are diagnosed before developing ketoacidosis.

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