Child diabetes treatment under strain over 'stretched resources' says Queen's consultant
PUBLISHED: 15:00 14 June 2015
About 3.2 million people have diabetes and the population which has seen the biggest rise in Type 1 diagnoses in recent years is the under fives.
Lorenzo Amato, 11, was diagnosed with the condition at the age of three following a chest infection which eventually led his pancreas – the organ which controls insulin production in healthy people – to shut down.
He is one of the seven per cent of patients at Queen’s Hospital in Rom Valley Way, Romford, who is treated using an insulin pump rather than multiple daily injections (MDI).
“He was put on the pump last August and it’s really good,” said Lorenzo’s mum, Nicky, of Roedean Drive, Romford.
“He wasn’t keen to start with but I encouraged him to try – now he can eat more or less what he likes within reason.”
Diabetes Awareness Week
Diabetes Awareness week kicks off on Sunday and aims to remind people they aren’t alone and to encourage people to be aware of symptoms.
Havering Diabetes UK campaigner, Pete Bailey, said: “Many people who have just been diagnosed with diabetes or are living with the condition can feel overwhelmed and are very concerned by the possibility of life-altering complications.
“It can also be a scary and lonely experience given that people with diabetes only have contact with a health care professional for a few hours each year, being left the rest of the time to care for and manage their diabetes themselves.”
For more information visit diabetes.org.uk/diabetesweek
The pump is continuously attached to Lorenzo via a small tube and the insulin being fed into his body is controlled by a remote control.
He must measure the carbohydrate value of everything he eats and the pump gives him the right amount of insulin based on a number of factors, including his weight, height and age.
A lack of education and understanding of Type 1 frustrates Nicky, despite admitting she didn’t know much about it before Lorenzo was diagnosed.
“The only other person I knew with diabetes was a friend’s mum and she’s Type 2 – I didn’t know kids could get it.”
The child diabetes lead in Havering, consultant paediatrician Dr Kausik Banerjee, helps Lorenzo manage his diabetes along with 360 other people aged 16 and younger at Queen’s.
“We see 40 new cases a year,” he explained. “Autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes, are increasing across all age groups, however we are seeing a large rise in children.
“A lot of research is being done into early years to find out why this is happening as diet and food is more related to Type 2 diabetes in older people.”
Pump treatment is resource heavy as it needs a dietician and psychologist to be involved in the process, which leaves the clinic stretched.
In Austria, 50 per cent of Type 1 diabetics use a pump but in the UK it is a mere 5 to 6pc.
The Diabetic Plan, launched in 2011, hopes to see 30pc on a pump by 2018, though Dr Banerjee thinks this is “ambitious”.
For those like Lorenzo, the pump has been life-changing, enabling him to manage his own condition and enjoy a wider diet while doing everything his friends do, albeit with more forward planning.
For now, diabetes has no cure. Scientists across the globe are working towards a solution although funding is an issue.