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Friday, 19 December 2014

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Diabetic youngster leads awareness campaign

Schoolchildren are backing a campaign to raise awareness of diabetes after one of their classmates was diagnosed with the illness.

Diabetes youngster photo
Angel, left, with classmates Casey Hodgson, Harrison Reay and Theo Wilson

Angel Grizedale-Stairs attends Caldew Lea Primary School in Carlisle. The five-year-old was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after being poorly for some time.

Despite being a life-threatening condition, a new survey has revealed that nine out of 10 parents do not know the main symptoms of diabetes.

As a result, about a quarter of children are not being diagnosed until they are already seriously ill and in need of urgent hospital treatment.

That is why Angel – who now relies on an insulin pump – and her fellow pupils are backing Diabetes UK’s latest campaign to raise awareness of the four main symptoms – frequent urinating, excessive thirst, extreme tiredness and unexplained weight loss.

Mum Beverley explained how they knew something was wrong: “Angel had been poorly for some time before she was diagnosed. She was so sleepy, constantly needing the toilet and was once again wetting the bed. She was losing weight and also had an excessive thirst.”

Her family were initially told that these were all classic symptoms of sibling rivalry as Angel’s baby brother had arrived weeks earlier.

But four weeks later she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. “Angel was in hospital for about a week – this was the week that changed our lives,” explained Beverley.

She now wants to encourage other parents to get symptom aware and hopefully prevent their children having to be rushed in to hospital.

Yesterday, pupils at Caldew Lea donned their campaign T-shirts to launch the national Diabetes UK initiative. They feature the campaign’s four telltale signs, all starting with the letter T – Toilet, Thirsty, Tired and Thinner.

Children also spent time drawing giant Ts to help get the message across.

The charity urges parents, carers and anyone who works with children to know the signs and understand that a child who has any of them urgently needs to visit a doctor.

The campaign will also raise awareness among health professionals so they can recognise symptoms more quickly.

Helen Pattie, Diabetes UK’s regional manager, said: “The symptoms of Type 1 diabetes 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 and we need to bring this appalling situation to an end.

“I fear that unless there is a big increase in awareness, we will continue to see hundreds of children a year become seriously ill completely needlessly,” added Ms Pattie.

“We hope the 4 Ts will help ensure children with the condition get diagnosed at the right time.”

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