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World Diabetes Day: Parents have trouble spotting warning signs in kids

The theme for World Diabetes Day 2018 is 'The Family and Diabetes', which focuses on raising awareness of the impact that diabetes has on the family and support network of those affected.

Blood glucose monitor and flex pen for injecting insulin. Picture: Freeimages.com

JOHANNESBURG - Four in five parents across the globe would not be able to identify the warning signs of diabetes in their children, while one in three wouldn't spot them at all.

This is according to a survey conducted in a few countries around the world, including South Africa, by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), which is urging families this World Diabetes Day - which falls on 14 November - to learn more about the warning signs of the disease.

Diabetes is the second top killer in South Africa, after Tuberculosis (TB).

The theme for World Diabetes Day 2018 is 'The Family and Diabetes', which focuses on raising awareness of the impact that diabetes has on the family and support network of those affected.

The IDF says the findings underline the need for education and awareness to help people spot the diabetes warning signs early.

The warning signs in children can include excessive thirst, frequent urination, a lack of energy, blurred vision, slow-healing wounds, and numbness in the feet and/or hands.

A lack of knowledge about diabetes means that spotting the warning signs is not just a problem for parents, but is an issue impacting a cross-section of society.

The federation says left untreated or unmanaged, diabetes can lead to life-changing complications. These include blindness, amputation, kidney failure, heart attack and stroke. Diabetes was responsible for four million worldwide deaths in 2017.

"It is vital everyone learns to identify the warning signs of diabetes. Sadly, diabetes can be easily missed or mistaken for something else and this leaves people – whether children or adults – vulnerable to serious consequences,” says professor Nam H Cho, IDF President.

"The rise in diabetes – particularly type 2, which is largely preventable – could in many cases be halted if people knew the warning signs and risk factors so they could adopt a healthier lifestyle or, if necessary, seek treatment. For many, particularly in developing countries, type 1 diabetes is still a death sentence. Many with type 2 diabetes are diagnosed too late when complications are already present. This is unacceptable and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

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