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Less than one in six parents know Type 1 diabetes symptoms

By Editor
24th November 2014
Charity, Latest news

Less than one in six parents recognise the four main symptoms of Type 1 diabetes, according to a new research commissioned by Diabetes UK.

The survey of 1,088 parents, carried out by Ipsos Mori, found that awareness of all four symptoms – going to the toilet a lot; being excessively tired or thirsty; and unexplained weight loss – is just 15 per cent.

The charity said such low recognition of the symptoms was putting children’s health at risk because if left undiagnosed, Type 1 diabetes can lead to people becoming very ill and, in rare cases, can even be fatal.

Diabetes UK’s 4 Ts (‘toilet’, ‘tired’, ‘thirsty’ and ‘thinner’) campaign has increased awareness over the last two years, from nine per cent in 2012 to 15 per cent now.

The campaign aims to reduce the high proportion of children who become seriously ill because they are not diagnosed early enough. It is thought this happens in about a quarter of cases because parents do not associate their child’s symptoms with Type 1 diabetes.

Of the individual symptoms, the best known is excessive thirst, which 63 per cent of parents in the survey identified as a symptom. The least well-known was weight loss, which just 34 per cent were aware of, although awareness of this symptom has increased in the past year by four percentage points. Awareness of tiredness was 65 per cent and awareness of the need to urinate a lot was 41 per cent.

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “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. 

At the moment there are too many children who are not diagnosed until they are already seriously ill

“While it is great that our 4 Ts campaign has increased awareness, there is clearly still a long way to go. We would urge all parents to make sure they are aware of the 4 Ts – toilet, tired, thirsty and thinner – so they know the symptoms to look out for in their child. The knowledge that they 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.

“It is also vital that parents have the confidence to politely insist that their child gets a test for Type 1 diabetes from their GP if they suspect their child may have the condition. This is because in some cases children have been sent away with antibiotics or are told to wait and see.”

Sarah Carey’s son, Fintan, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after the family read about the 4 Ts campaign and went to their GP. 

We could have lost Fintan but thanks to the 4 Ts we got a diagnosis

She said: “It was a relief because we had known something was seriously wrong and we’d even been to the GP but we hadn’t got any answers. We could have lost Fintan but thanks to the 4 Ts we got a diagnosis and that is why I want every parent to know about them.”

For more information on the 4 Ts campaign, visit: www.diabetes.org.uk/the4Ts.

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