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Local children give diabetes worries the boot‏

The event was hosted by specialists in the North Thames East Paediatric Diabetes Network - incorporating Barts Health NHS Trust (The Royal London, Whipps Cross and Newham hospitals), Barking, Havering and Redbridge Trust (Queen's and King George Hospital) and North Middlesex Hospital. The teams were supported on the day by charities, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and Diabetes UK, as well as medical companies who demonstrated the latest in gadgets available to support people with diabetes, such as hand-held blood sugar monitors and insulin pumps. In addition to getting information and advice, families were kept entertained by making fruit skewers and enjoying face and nail painting, as well as competing in games including, keepie-uppies, hula-hooping and ‘throw the welly boot’. Information was specifically aimed at children and young people with type-1 diabetes, a condition that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to become too high, and can seriously damage the body's organs. 

Paediatric Diabetes Dietitian at Barts Health NHS Trust, Sonja Allen, explained: “Type 1 diabetes is a serious and lifelong condition, but there is much we can do to support people to live well and stay healthy. Events such as these are a vital part in ensuring that children and their families get the right treatment and information to lead full lives.”

Diane Harvey-Coggans, Paediatric Diabetes Specialist Nurse at Queen’s Hospital, said: “The event at the Olympic Park was a brilliant way of giving children, young people and their families the chance to learn more about diabetes in a fun and relaxing setting. Not only did the children learn a lot of useful information, they also had a great time.” 

Dr Kapila Piyusha, head of paediatric diabetes services at North Middlesex University Hospital added: "We were delighted to be able to help young people with diabetes and their families learn more about diabetes at this very useful and fun event."

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas - a small gland behind the stomach - stops producing any insulin, a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels. High levels of glucose can damage blood vessels, nerves and organs.

In the UK, around 2.9 million people are affected by type 1 diabetes. It often develops before the age of 40, usually during the teenage years. There is no cure, but can be controlled by insulin injections, and it is important to eat a healthy diet and take regular exercise to help keep blood sugar levels stable.  

Case study: 

Aydin Ara was just 23 months old when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. His mum, Gabrielle, could tell something was wrong as he was losing weight and drinking lots of water. 

After initially being told by their family GP that Aydin probably had a virus and advised to keep an eye on him, his condition worsened and upon attending The Royal London Hospital, blood and urine tests showed that Aydin was suffering from type 1 diabetes.

“The diagnosis was devastating, completely life-changing,” Gabrielle, who lives in Wanstead, explained. 

“I feared the serious complications that can arise from type 1 diabetes, especially as children grow older, and as a family we wondered what we could do to help Aydin. But it is important to recognise that diabetes is a manageable condition.”

Now aged six, Aydin lives a normal, active lifestyle. He has regular check-ups every three months with the Barts Health NHS Trust diabetes team. He stays well by taking insulin through a pump, supported by his parents to check his blood glucose (sugar) levels to ensure that he gets the correct amount of insulin, up to 14 times every 24 hours. 

Gabrielle continued: “It takes a lot of work to keep an eye on Aydin’s blood glucose levels. He loves to be active and is often playing with his brother, (Aran, aged four), so his levels can rise and fall quite quickly. 

“We came to the event to find out as much as we can about managing the condition. There are so many different types of pumps and blood glucose monitors available - it’s all part of making sure that we give him the best care that we possibly can.

“We are also keen to ensure we educate Aydin so that he fully understands the importance of looking after his health as he grows up.”

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