Campaign aims to educate parents in signs of type 1 diabetes

By Staff

The Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, at the University of Colorado, along with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) wants every Denver parent to be "T1D Aware" and recognize the telltale signs of type 1 diabetes in order to prevent a potentially deadly complication that often occurs as a result of a delayed diagnosis. JDRF is launching the new educational campaign called "T1D Aware" to raise awareness of the key signs of type 1 diabetes.

"The symptoms of type 1 diabetes are often mistaken for other conditions like a bladder infection," said Georgeanna Klingensmith, M.D., director of the pediatric clinic at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes. "The longer we wait to diagnose type 1 diabetes, the more dangerous it can be. That's why it's so important to be 'T1D Aware' and to equate frequent urination and excessive thirst as potential signs of type 1 diabetes."

In addition to frequent urination and excessive thirst, lower than normal energy, tiredness and weight loss are all telltale signs of type 1 diabetes. Other symptoms include: increased appetite, sudden vision changes, fruity odor on the breath, vomiting, heavy or labored breathing and/or stupor or unconsciousness. If parents, teachers, school nurses, coaches and even teenagers notice these signs, they should talk to a doctor immediately.

According to the National Diabetes Education Program, between 25 and 40 percent of the children who are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes have a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis or DKA. In Colorado, the rate of DKA at diagnosis has increased from 25 to 30 percent in 2006 to 40 percent in 2009. DKA occurs when the body breaks down fat for energy instead of sugar. When this happens, the body produces an acid called a ketone. High levels of ketones are very dangerous and can lead to vomiting, dehydration, coma and even death, especially in young children. DKA is the leading cause of death and disability in children with type 1 diabetes.