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sick childPerth Children’s Hospital has reported a significant drop in the number of Western Australian kids diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the past month. This may be related to parents being worried about taking their sick kids to the doctor, or unable to get an appointment, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Early diagnosis of type 1 diabetes is critical to the health of the child.

Deborah Schofield, GM Health Services at Diabetes WA, said that a timely diagnosis of type 1 diabetes can save a lot of stress and avoid a dangerous situation requiring a trip to the emergency room.

“In Western Australia around 150 children are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes each year, which is almost three per week. That means there could be up to six children at home, becoming very unwell due to untreated diabetes right now. We would like to make everyone aware of the signs of type 1 diabetes, so that people can get the treatment they need quickly.”

Everyone should know the 4 T’s of Type 1 diabetes:

  • Toilet – are they going to the toilet a lot?
  • Thirsty – are they really thirsty and unable to quench that thirst?
  • Tired – are they more tired than usual?
  • Thinner – have they recently lost weight?

Mark Shah, Nurse Practitioner at Perth Children’s Hospital’s Endocrinology and Diabetes Unit, identified the worrying trend here in WA.

“We’ve heard similar cases in Europe and other parts of Australia, where children are presenting late for diagnosis and then requiring an ICU bed because they are so sick”, Mr Shah said.

“In this time, with overwhelming messages about COVID-19, please don’t forget about type 1 diabetes”, Mr Shah added.

If you have a child or other loved one who is excessively thirsty, urinating a lot, getting thinner or even vomiting, please contact your GP immediately, or call HealthDirect on 1800 022 222 for advice.

For diabetes information and support people can call the Diabetes WA helpline on 1300 001 880 from 8:30am – 4:30pm, Monday – Friday. For more in-depth support, our helpline staff may refer you to our Diabetes Telehealth service for a free consultation with a diabetes educator via videoconference or telephone at home.

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