Emergency admissions due to child diabetes 'shocking'

More than 3,300 children are admitted to A&E each year for complications caused by diabetes, figures showed today.

There were 3,345 emergency admissions among under-18s in England for the 12 months to April 2009, the data, released by Diabetes UK, revealed.

The youngsters were admitted for diabetic ketoacidosis, which occurs when blood glucose levels are too high.

It causes vomiting, stomach pain, rapid breathing and can lead to coma and death unless emergency treatment is given.

Children accounted for around a quarter of all the 13,465 emergency admissions for diabetic ketoacidosis, the figures showed.

Meanwhile, the overall number of admissions for the condition has risen almost 9% since 2006.

All the youngsters admitted to A&E in the data had Type 1 diabetes, which usually develops in childhood.

The UK has the fourth highest incidence of Type 1 diabetes among under-15s in Europe.

The incidence is 25 new cases each year per 100,000 children in the UK, behind 28 in Norway, 41 in Sweden and 57 in Finland.

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 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."

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