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Young diabetes sufferers ‘at risk’ of complications

Thousands of young Scots who suffer diabetes are at risk of developing serious health complications because healthcare professionals and schools fail to listen to their needs or help them control their condition adequately, a charity has warned.

Diabetes UK is calling for improved provision of and access to educational and psychological support for children and young people with diabetes.

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The management of diabetes in children and young people can be more complex than in adults, and adolescence is a notoriously difficult time to achieve good diabetes control when hormonal changes can affect blood glucose levels.

Poor diabetes control makes children and young people more at risk of developing the serious complications of diabetes in future, which include stroke, heart disease, amputation, kidney disease and blindness.

A survey carried out for the charity found 61% of children and young people with diabetes aged under 17 “rarely felt able” to talk

about their needs or only able to talk about them “some of the time” when trying to discuss their diabetes with their healthcare team.

Many children and young people said they wanted better access to advice on food choices and to psychological support but last year only 16% of children and young people always had access to a dietitian and only 0.5% to a psychologist.

The charity found 56% of children and young people wanted to see better communication between their diabetes care team and their school so they could receive the necessary joined-up support to manage their condition better.

Jane-Claire Judson, national director of Diabetes UK Scotland, said: “Coping with diabetes as a child or a young person can be a great challenge and while many young people have a positive approach, others are struggling to find the support they need to minimise the impact diabetes can have on their future.”

Scotland has one of the highest rates in the world for Type 1 diabetes and the number of cases is rising each year by 2%.

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