“T1D Aware” Initiative Launched

August 17, 2010

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, MD, 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.

About Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic, debilitating disease affecting every organ system that strikes children and adults suddenly, and lasts a lifetime.  Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food.  People with type 1 diabetes must take multiple injections of insulin daily or continuous infusion of insulin through a pump just to survive.  Taking insulin does not cure any type of diabetes nor prevent the possibility of its devastating effects if the person’s diabetes is not managed optimally: kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage and heart attacks.  There are approximately 3 million Americans living with type 1 diabetes, and more than 30,000 children and adults are diagnosed every year.