Nepean Hospital paediatric endocrinologist Dr Gary Leong is calling for families to improve their awareness of the signs of diabetes.
He said this will help speed up diagnosis and prevent the development of a potentially lethal condition associated with childhood diabetes.
Data from the Nepean Hospital Diabetes Service reveals that the potentially life-threatening condition diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) occurs in nearly 38 per cent of children presenting with newly diagnosed diabetes over the last decade.
DKA is a metabolic condition, caused by a lack of insulin in the body, that can occur in children with type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is presently not preventable and Dr Leong said early diagnosis is critically important to avoid the development of DKA and ensure children start a healthier and happier journey with diabetes.
“Too many children in our clinic are presenting with DKA, which is associated with major medical risks,” said Dr Leong.
“DKA is life-threatening. It’s a condition where the child develops very high blood sugars, causing a build-up of acid in the bloodstream. Children with DKA can have difficulty breathing, develop severe dehydration, lose consciousness and require admission to an intensive care unit.”
Dr Leong says recognising the 4T signs of diabetes could potentially save a child’s life.
“We want families, general practitioners and other doctors to understand the importance of making that diabetes diagnosis earlier. Knowing those early signs using the 4Ts is the key,” he said.
The four T signs of diabetes are thirst, toilet, thinner and tired.
“If your child is drinking or urinating excessively, losing weight and is unusually tired, get in touch with your GP immediately to check if they have diabetes,” said Dr Leong.
“A simple finger prick test which tests the blood glucose level, sometimes supplemented with a urine test, can provide that crucial diagnosis and help prevent DKA.
“The Nepean Hospital Diabetes Service is a valuable resource for families of children with Type 1 diabetes. We work closely with families to ensure children with diabetes remain well, reach their full potential and have a great quality of life.
“There’s so much evidence now that a child who starts their diabetes journey with a healthy beginning, and not in DKA, will do much better in the long term. We want to help ensure that children stay well throughout this journey and that early recognition of the 4T signs is key,” said Dr Leong.
November 14 is World Diabetes Day.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.