T1 Diabetes and Children


Before I started designing characters to communicate important diabetes information with children, I first researched prominent problems that children with diabetes had to deal with, including any possible symptoms to look out for.

I used the USearch system in the University of Ulster library to search databases for relevant e-journals related to my searches. It took several searches using variations on keywords but eventually I found some relevant articles.

screenshotThough I was not able to access all of them without subscriptions, I noted several recurring themes in the results I found;

Recognition of symptoms of DKA

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a potentially fatal condition found in people with undiagnosed diabetes – particularly Type 1. Children can commonly remain undiagnosed until they are in DKA, and Diabetes UK is campaigning to improve the recognition of symptoms of diabetes in children. Recognizable with the 4 ‘T’s; Toilet, Thirsty, Tired and Thinner

– Incorrect blood sugar assumptions

Study’s show that many diabetic children follow incorrect assumptions about they BGC (Blood Sugar Glucose), including recognition of the symptoms and indicting factors of Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia

They showed failures in the correct discrimination of symptoms of hypoglycemia as well as the presence of false beliefs regarding indicative symptoms of hyperglycemia….Correct use of external signs is shown to be related to correct estimations of normal BGL

– Stress

Stress was a common subject of study within families affected with T1 Diabetes, and while many coped well with the condition there were stressed on both sides of the illness that can be addressed.

increased depressive symptoms were reported in children (8%) and a parent (29%)

– In adults stress resulting most often from the constant alertness and worry of having to look out for signs of Hypo- and Hyperglycemia in afflicted children, as well as the resulting broken sleeping schedule. Teaching children a more reliable system of recognizing symptoms themselves could be useful here

– In children, while many coped well, cases of PTSD and stress were noted. This can be traced back to how the parents are coping – their mood and stress level being passed on to the child, but many also have their own problems. Older children may be concerned about ‘having a hypo’ while they sleep, telling classmates and friends about the condition, going out alone or simply not being able to eat sweets anymore. On child in the problem page of Diabetes.org.uk was worrie about going hypoglycemic while exercising and how to work around this


Troncone, A, Prisco, F, Cascella, C, Chianese, A, Zanfardino, A, & Iafusco, D 2014, ‘The evaluation of body image in children with type 1 diabetes: A case-control study’, Journal Of Health Psychology, MEDLINE, EBSCOhost, viewed 2 October 2014.

Ybarra Sagarduy, J, & Gil Roales-Nieto, J 2004, ‘Accuracy in discriminating blood glucose levels in a sample of children with type 1 diabetes’, The Spanish Journal Of Psychology, 7, 2, pp. 112-123, MEDLINE, EBSCOhost, viewed 2 October 2014.

Dowling, L 2013, ‘The 4 ‘Ts’ – aiding prompt diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes in children’, Practice Nurse, 43, 2, pp. 18-21, Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 2 October 2014.

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