A Children and type 1 Diabetes Day is taking place on 3 February to raise awareness of early symptoms, so that children can be diagnosed before they become seriously unwell. The Senedd event is sponsored by Jayne Bryant AM to celebrate the achievements of children in Wales who live with the condition.
Amy Evans, former Wales international rugby player is now an ambassador for the Diabetes UK Cymru’s Know type 1 campaign. The Ospreys women player of the year in 2019 won 35 caps since making her debut against England in 2015 and now runs her own fitness centre in Aberdare.
Amy said, “I was lucky to have been diagnosed safely at age 11 because my family knew the signs. My advice to youngsters with type 1 diabetes is push for anything you want to achieve. There really are no limits. There might be some adjustments that you have to make, but it doesn’t mean that you have to stop doing anything that you want to achieve."
Children and young people with type 1 diabetes will share inspirational stories about how they manage their condition day-to-day, while achieving remarkable things. As part of this campaign, Diabetes UK Cymru is asking parents, carers, teachers and members of the public to be aware of the signs.
The four most common symptoms of type 1 diabetes also known as the 4Ts are:
- Toilet - going to the toilet a lot, bed wetting by a previously dry child or heavier nappies in babies.
- Thirsty - being really thirsty and not being able to quench the thirst.
- Tired - feeling more tired than usual.
- Thinner - losing weight or looking thinner than usual.
If a child has any of the symptoms take them straight to the doctor and insist on a test for type 1 diabetes there and then. All it takes is a quick finger-prick blood test, which a GP can carry out straight away which can diagnose the condition in minutes.
If not quickly identified and treated, type 1 diabetes can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a condition which can be life-threatening.
Our Know Type 1 campaign was inspired and spearheaded by Beth and Stuart Baldwin, from Cardiff. Their son Peter passed away in 2015 as a result of undiagnosed type 1 diabetes when he was 13. The Baldwin family, who are attending the event have raised over £70,000 for Diabetes UK Cymru and work tirelessly to stop preventable deaths from type 1.
Beth Baldwin said, “Designating this day will help ensure that parents, schools and others start recognising early symptoms and get children tested so that what we are going through and anyone’s worst nightmare doesn’t happen again”.
Wales’s connection to the discovery of insulin
The Children and Type 1 Diabetes Day will also mark the link between Wales and the discovery of Insulin, almost 100 years ago. In August 1922, Elizabeth Evans Hughes, whose grandfather came from Tredegar, became one of the first patients in the world to receive the life-saving treatment of insulin, in Toronto, Canada, at the age of 15.
Diabetes UK Cymru has traced Elizabeth Evans Hughes’ family tree. At the Senedd event her grandson, Professor David W Denning of Manchester University, will present the newly reissued Elizabeth Evans Hughes Medal to people living with diabetes in Wales.
Dai Williams, National Director, Diabetes UK Cymru, said: ‘‘On Children and Type 1 Diabetes Day we will be highlighting the inspiring stories of children and young people living with the condition as well as raising awareness of the vital importance of early diagnosis.
“The aim of the Know type 1 campaign is to make recognition of the 4Ts second nature to people in Wales, so that children are diagnosed sooner and more safely.
Our message is an urgent one; if your child is showing any of the early signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes they should be taken straight to their GP for a simple finger-prick test. If swiftly identified and treated, there is no reason why they can’t go on to live a full, active and successful life just like the young people we will be highlighting on the night.'
There are around 1,400 children and young people in Wales living with type 1 diabetes and it’s the most common metabolic disorder in childhood.