Children Get Diabetes Too - Parents Urged To Be Aware Of The Signs Of Diabetes in Children and Young People


The Public Health Agency (PHA) is urging parents and carers to be aware of key signs that could indicate that their child may have developed Type 1 diabetes.  With Type 1 diabetes, early diagnosis is important in children and young people otherwise their condition could deteriorate rapidly as a result of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to produce insulin and is the most common type of diabetes in children and young adults. No one knows what causes it, but it is not related to being overweight and it isn’t currently preventable.

Symptoms in children and young people can develop over a few days or weeks and parents and carers should look out for the ‘4 Ts’:

  1. Toilet – going to the loo a lot, bed wetting starts unexpectedly
  2. Thirsty – child being really thirsty
  3. Tired – feeling more tired than usual;
  4. Thinner – losing weight or looking thinner than normal.

If parents are worried their child might have diabetes they should ask their GP or pharmacist to have their child’s blood glucose measured.

Dr Bríd Farrell from the Public Health Agency said: “Every year between 100 and 130 children develop Type 1 diabetes in Northern Ireland.  If we diagnose Type 1 early we can often prevent a condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) which can be life-threatening.” 

Dr Farrell continued: “Keeping an eye out for the 4 Ts can result in earlier diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes.  If parents are concerned about their child they should have their blood glucose (sugar) checked either in the GP surgery or local pharmacy”.

Dr David Chaney, Assistant Director for Local Impact for Diabetes UK, said, ‘Too many children and young people are not diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes until their lives are at risk. It’s a frightening time for everyone involved. This doesn’t need to be the case. We want to raise awareness of the four most common symptoms of Type 1 diabetes to make sure all children are diagnosed early.  If your child has any of these signs and symptoms, you should take them straight to the doctor and insist on a test for Type 1 diabetes there and then. All it takes is a quick and simple finger-prick blood test, which your GP can carry out straight away.”

There are other symptoms aside from the 4 Ts that can indicate type 1 diabetes – for further information on the condition, see