Campaign launched to help parents recognise type 1 diabetes in children

Penny Valentine (right) has learnt to live with type 1 diabetes after she was diagnosed as a toddler, she is pictured ...
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Penny Valentine (right) has learnt to live with type 1 diabetes after she was diagnosed as a toddler, she is pictured with her younger brother George.

If you look at 10-year-old Penny Valentine, you wouldn't be able to tell she has diabetes. 

Penny was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 22 months old but she may not still be alive if her parents weren't cautious. 

This week researchers from the Liggins Institute and Starship Children's Hospital are releasing a poster to help parents recognise the symptoms of type 1 diabetes. 

The Liggins Institute and Starship Children's Hospital are running a public health campaign to help parents sport early ...
SUPPLIED

The Liggins Institute and Starship Children's Hospital are running a public health campaign to help parents sport early symptoms of type 1 diabetes in their kids.

"She was still in nappies and she could never get enough water. We were coming into summer and at night time we were having to change her nappies in the middle of the night," her mother Sarah says.

Sarah knew something was wrong.

"She would eat like crazy, we had a cheese board out for guests and we turned around and she'd eaten a whole camembert!"

Sarah took her to the doctors and they asked for a urine sample and a blood test to check her sugar levels.

However, the doctors misdiagnosed Penny.

"We were in panic stations as there was definitely something wrong with our child," she says.

Penny was diagnosed with type one diabetes at 22 months old, if Sarah had not been so cautious and left it one more week it would have been fatal.

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Every year, around 60 children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in Auckland.

Children like Penny who develop type 1 diabetes do not produce enough insulin to use the glucose in their blood.

When children have type 1 diabetes, their bodies start to burn fat, which turns to waste known as ketone. 

If it is not diagnosed early, the levels of ketone rise and become poisonous leading to a serious condition called diabetic ketoacidosis​ or DKA.

In Auckland, DKA affects 28 per cent of newly-diagnosed children meaning they may need intensive care and can have dangerous brain swelling. 

Liggins Institute researcher, Dr Jose Derraik says the best treatment to prevent DKA is early diagnosis. 

"So we want to help parents recognise the symptoms of type 1 diabetes in their kids."

Even though diabetes has become a normal part of the Valentine family's life, Sarah wants there to be more awareness out there. 

She encourages parents to look for the telling signs such as increased thirst and frequent urination in their children. 

Researchers from the Liggins Institute and Starship Children's Hospital have produced a cartoon poster to help parents identify the signs which will be delivered to households on July 16. 

The simple cartoon poster shows the common symptoms, which include:

*urinating frequently during the day

*urinating at night or wetting the bed

*drinking too much

*other symptoms may include weight loss and feeling overly tired.

 

 - Stuff

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