Mackay HHS is part of a state-wide campaign to help drive drive down soaring rates of a potentially fatal complication of Type 1 diabetes in children.
The Townsville Hospital and Health Service Endocrinologist and chair of the state-wide Type 1 diabetes working group Dr Jason Yates said DKA – diabetic ketoacidosis – was a severe metabolic emergency that could develop in children with undiagnosed type 1 diabetes.
Dr Yates said typically about 47 per cent of children developed DKA but this year numbers had almost doubled to 80 per cent in 2020.
“The signs of type 1 diabetes can be subtle and tough for parents, and even GPs, to pick up,” he said.
“We believe the rise in undiagnosed type 1 diabetes we’ve seen this year is because people are more reluctant to go to healthcare providers due to COVID-19.
“This education campaign will get into our schools, into our primary healthcare providers and into our playgroups to give us the best chance of catching type 1 diabetes early and preventing DKA.”
Dr Yates said the campaign had also received the support of the Lions Club and Country Women’s Association to further boost the reach of the campaign.
In 2019, 1759 children were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, a lifelong condition where the body cannot transform glucose into energy.
Undiagnosed, children can develop the potentially life-threatening DKA – a severe metabolic emergency that often requires intensive care support. Most children who develop DKA is related to a delay in diagnosing type 1 diabetes.
Dr Yates said education was the simplest and easiest way to drive down the rates of DKA in Queensland and Australia.
“We have a problem with DKA in this country and there’s a really easy way to fix it,” he said.
“Through this campaign we are hoping to provide the community with the information they need to recognise type 1 diabetes early.”
Dr Yates said the signs of type 1 diabetes are the 4Ts – tired, thirsty, toilet (excessive urination) and thinner.
“I’d urge parents to educate themselves about the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes and if your child has one or more of the 4Ts please go and see a health professional,” he said.
“I know it’s hard because if we took our child to a doctor every time, they wet the bed we’d be back and forth, but we’re talking about a pattern, especially if coupled with one of the other 4T symptoms.
“In cases like this it’s absolutely better to err on the side of caution and ask for a same day appointment with your GP.”