Elwyn was a healthy 13 month-old toddler when she started drinking water from the bathtub. Over time, she became increasingly thirsty and demanded more and more breast milk. For her parents, this seemed like typical behavior related to a growth spurt. One day, however, they noticed that she was abnormally weak and her to the emergency department. She was diagnosing with type 1 diabetes; had already developed a life-threatening complication of the disease known as diabetic ketoacidosis.
The researcher was immediately transferring to the intensive care unit; where she was treated for several days. Now two years old, Elwyn is still recovering, but doing better. Unfortunately, the late diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and its severe complications is not uncommon. According to a new study led by a team at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), more than 25% of children in Quebec diagnosed with type 1 diabetes already have diabetic ketoacidosis.
The blood sugar test
The symptoms of type 1 diabetes are not fast enough by the parents; the schools or healthcare providers. A simple blood sugar test is all that is needs to diagnose a child with type 1 diabetes; in presence of symptoms such as frequent urination; excessive thirst, weight loss, a lack of energy and constant hunger.” Type 1 diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood and affects around 4,000 children in Quebec.
It occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin; an important hormone that helps your body control the level of sugar in the blood. Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when the body produces a high level of blood acids that become toxic. “Diabetic ketoacidosis is generally an avoidable and preventable complication of type 1 diabetes. If caught early, the child is starting on insulin, preventing the development of diabetic ketoacidosis.
Type 1 diabetes
Researchers looked at the trends of DKA by analyzing data provided by the Institut national de santé Publique du Québec (INSPQ); which focused on the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes in patients between the ages of 1 to 17 years, from 2001 to 2014. They identified a total of 5,741 new cases of diabetes among children and adolescents. Overall, 1,471 children presented with DKA at diabetes diagnosis. Researchers also looked at different factors such as age at diabetes diagnosis, biological sex, socioeconomic and rural status.
“They have not yet able to establish the exact causes of the increased occurrence of DKA in Quebec,” explains the first study author. “It would appear that access to the front-line health care system could a factor, especially for people living outside of major cities.” The results show that action needs to be taken and underscore the need for awareness campaigns in Quebec, which are now non-existent, about the symptoms of type 1 diabetes among the general public and general practitioners across the province.”