There are approximately 29,000 children and young people with diabetes in the UK, of which about 26,500 have type 1; 500 have type 2; and 2000 have an unrecorded diagnosis1. Type 1 diabetes is the leading type of diabetes in children of all ages and the number diagnosed with the condition is rising by approximately 4 per cent each year.2
The peak age for diagnosis is between 10 and 14, but onset of the condition can occur at any age and an increasing number of younger children are being diagnosed. According to Diabetes UK, of those children who are newly diagnosed, about 25 per cent are not diagnosed until they are in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This figure rises to 35 per cent in children under 5 years.3
DKA - abnormally high blood glucose levels resulting in the production of ketones and acidosis - occurs when the body is unable to use blood sugar as a result of insufficient insulin and so it breaks down fat instead. Risk factors for DKA include not keeping up with recommended insulin injections; infections and other illnesses; and drug and alcohol misuse. DKA can be fatal if left untreated, and is the leading cause of death in children with type 1 diabetes.
Identifying the condition