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Diabetes scare as three kids taken to A&E each week

By Victoria O'Hara

Almost 190 children in Northern Ireland are rushed to hospital every year with life-threatening complications linked to diabetes, new figures have revealed.

According to Diabetes UK, 185 children were rushed to accident and emergency departments with Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) from April 2008 to March 2009 — which the charity describes as “a potentially fatal diabetic complication”.

DKA happens when blood glucose levels are high and causes nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and rapid breathing.

If left untreated it can result in the patient dying. Children and young people under 19 accounted for around a third of the 624 emergency admissions for DKA during that period in the province.

The charity described the statistics as “shocking” and says it highlights the need for parents to have better access to paediatric specialist diabetes teams.

The level of emergency admissions has remained constant over the last four years.

In 2006/07 there were 190 cases and in 2007/08 it was 199.

The UK has the fourth highest highest incidence of Type 1 diabetes in children (25 per 100,000 a year) in Europe and the lowest number of children attaining good diabetes control.

Diabetes UK is also concerned that in many cases DKA occurs because Type 1 diabetes is not diagnosed early enough. Often, Type 1 diabetes is only diagnosed when DKA is identified.

Iain Foster, National Director of Diabetes UK Northern Ireland, said: “It's shocking to see such high numbers of children being rushed to A&E with this life-threatening complication.

“We know from previous research that specialist diabetes staff would report an increase in emergency hospital admissions whenever there are cuts in services.

“Children and their parents desperately need better access to paediatric specialist diabetes teams.

“It is vitally important that the caseload of paediatric diabetes nurses remains at a safe level where they can provide the care that our children need and deserve.”

Mr Foster added: “Although the number of cases fell by 14 last year the figures are consistently high which is worrying.”

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