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“Shocking” numbers of children with diabetes in A&E

Charity says children with diabetes need better access to specialist diabetic care
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Roger Henderson
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8th February 2010 - 3,300 children were admitted to hospital Accident and Emergency units in England last year with a potentially fatal diabetes complication.

The figures have been compiled by the health charity, Diabetes UK.

It says the condition, known as diabetic ketoacidosis, occurs when the body’s cells are unable to get enough glucose because levels of glucose in the blood are too high. The body begins to use stores of fat as an alternative source of energy and this in turn produces an acidic by-product known as ketones.

9% rise in complication

Ketones are harmful and the body tries to get rid of them by excreting them in urine. Diabetic ketoacidosis causes nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, rapid breathing and, if left untreated, may lead to coma and death. People developing the complication require hospital treatment.

Diabetes UK says children accounted for around a quarter of the 13,465 emergency admissions for diabetic ketoacidosis during the 12-months to March 2009. The numbers of admissions because of the complication have gone up by nearly 9% since 2006.

Diabetes UK says it’s concerned that diabetic ketoacidosis is becoming more prolific because type 1 diabetes is not being diagnosed early enough. It’s calling for better access to specialist care.

Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, tells us by email that “It’s shocking to see such high numbers of children being rushed to A&E with this life-threatening complication. We know from our previous research that specialist diabetes staff report an increase in emergency hospital admissions whenever there are cuts in services.

“Better access” to specialist care

“Children and their parents desperately need better access to paediatric specialist diabetes teams. The number of emergency admissions could be reduced significantly with investment in appropriate care, diabetes advice and practical self-management support. The quality of life for children with diabetes is at stake so we must act now.”

The charity says the UK has the fourth highest incidence of type 1 diabetes in children in Europe and the lowest number of children attaining good diabetes control.

Reviewed on February 08, 2010

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