Over 3,000 emergency hospital admissions a year for children
08 February 2010
Latest figures reveal that last year there were more than 3,300 (1) cases of children in England admitted to accident and emergency departments with a potentially fatal diabetic complication, warns leading health charity Diabetes UK.
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) occurs when blood glucose levels are high (hyperglycaemia) and causes nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, rapid breathing and, if left untreated, may lead to coma and death. DKA requires urgent hospital treatment.
Children and young people under 18 accounted for around a quarter of the 13,465 emergency admissions for DKA during the 12-month period from April 2008 to March 2009. In addition, the numbers of DKA hospital admissions have risen steadily in recent years, with an increase of almost nine per cent since 2006.
The UK has the fourth highest (2) incidence of Type 1 diabetes (3) in children (25 per 100,000 a year) in Europe and the lowest number of children attaining good diabetes control. Diabetes UK is concerned that in many cases DKA occurs because Type 1 diabetes is not diagnosed early enough.
Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “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 (4) that specialist diabetes staff 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. 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.”
Notes To Editors
- Figures from the NHS Information Centre on Health and Social Care show that there were 3,345 emergency hospital admissions of people aged under 18 from April 2008 to March 2009.
- The incidence of Type 1 diabetes in children aged 0-14 per year per 100,000 UK 25, Sweden 41, Norway 28, Finland 57. (International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Atlas 2009).
- Type 1 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells have been destroyed and the body is unable to produce any insulin. Usually it appears before the age of 40, and especially in childhood. It is treated with insulin either by injection or pump, a healthy diet and regular physical activity. Type 2 diabetes develops when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or the insulin that is produced doesn’t work properly. Usually it appears in people aged over 40, though in South Asian and Black people it can appear from the age of 25. It is becoming more common in children and young people of all ethnicities. Type 2 diabetes is treated with a healthy diet and regular physical activity, but medication and/or insulin is often required.
- Cuts in Diabetes Specialist Services report (2007). Diabetes UK.
- Diabetes UK is the leading charity for the three million people in the UK with diabetes. We aim to spend more than £6.5 million on research in 2010 as well as campaigning and providing information and support. For more information visit www.diabetes.org.uk
- In the UK, there are currently 2.6 million people diagnosed with diabetes and it is estimated that up to half a million people have Type 2 diabetes but do not know it.
- The Diabetes UK Careline (0845 120 2960) offers information and support on any aspect of managing diabetes. The line is a low cost number and opens Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm (operates a translation service). Recorded information on a number of diabetes-related topics is also available on this number 24 hours a day.
- Supporting our work to fund vital research into the care, treatment and hopefully a cure for diabetes as a Diabetes UK Supporting Member entitles you to a range of benefits including our bi-monthly magazine Balance, reliable information booklets on diabetes, our confidential Diabetes UK Careline, over 400 local Diabetes UK support groups, and access to an exclusive personalised Supporting Members Area on our website.