To mark World Diabetes Day today (Tuesday, November 14, 2023), VIVA! Communications wishes to shine a light on the often overlooked, misunderstood &/or stigmatised experiences witnessed by children & teens living with juvenile (Type 1) diabetes, & their families, community supporters & healthcare providers.
T1D is a lifelong, & potentially devastating disease, for which there is currently no known cause, or cure. Also known as ‘type 1 diabetes mellitus’, or ‘insulin dependent diabetes’, children & teens develop the disease through no fault of their own. Tragically, those who develop T1D may die up to two decades earlier than those free from diabetes.
The pancreas in those living with T1D cannot produce insulin – a key hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Without sufficient insulin, glucose accumulates in the bloodstream, resulting in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). If blood glucose levels (BGLs) are not maintained within an optimal range via various management strategies, this can result in serious health complications, such as kidney & eye damage, nerve damage to the feet, gum & tooth disease, sexual dysfunction, & long-term damage to the nerves that control the function of internal organs, such as bowel function, digestion, blood pressure & heart rate.
Therefore, those afflicted must take daily insulin doses via injections or an insulin pump to manage their BGLs, in order to remain healthy & minimise their risk of complications.
T1D represents 10 per cent of all diabetes cases in Australia – a percentage that is concerningly, continuing to grow each year.
According to Diabetes Australia, 134,000 Australians were living with T1D in 2022 – the highest incidence of which has been recorded in children aged between 10 to 14 years. Yet despite the growing numbers of T1D, the disease continues to suffer from neglect, misunderstanding, lack of empathy, & stigma, to the detriment of those affected.
Recently, seven-year-old Angus Pidd from Adelaide, was forced to remove his life-saving insulin pump & glucose monitor in order to pass through Melbourne airport security. This proved a traumatising experience for both Angus & his parents, the latter of whom pleaded with airport staff to allow their son to not pass through the metal detector, but rather, to be swabbed or patted down. Yet the family received “no empathy whatsoever”. According to Australian diabetes educator, @Belinda Moore, this experience is not uncommon.
Today we encourage you to support the thousands of Aussie children living with juvenile T1D, & their families, by taking a few minutes out of your day to learn the difference between T1D & T2D, & to listen to the experiences of children, teens & families who endure this disease 24/7, 365 days a year.
Watch Angus Pidd’s airport experience here: https://9now.nine.com.au/a-current-affair/diabetes-young-boy-made-to-remove-life-saving-medical-device-to-go-through-airport-security-melbourne-airport/b0f68925-728e-4dc2-9c30-3214d21c04f2
Read stories from the T1D community here: https://jdrf.org.au/case-studies/