Type 1 Diabetes in Young Children

Starting School be Type 1 aware


The four main symptoms of Type 1 diabetes are easy to remember:

  • Thirst: Excess drinking, unable to quench thirst.
  • Toilet: Frequent urination, particularly at night.
  • Tiredness: Lack of energy, sleeping more than usual.
  • Weight loss: Rapid weight loss over a short period.

Do you know the symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes in younger children 2

Less common symptoms:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Vomiting and abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Bedwetting
  • Mood swings
  • Frequent infections
  • Itchy skin infections

NOTE: In children under the age of two, symptoms may not be immediately obvious.



Type 1 Diabetes – no longer a rare condition 

Prevalence of Type 1 Diabetes in Younger Children for landing page

Up to five children and teenagers are diagnosed each week with Type 1 diabetes in Ireland.

In 2014, 1 in 6 children diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes were admitted to hospital with Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), as a result of late diagnosis. Early diagnosis is critical.  DKA is a potentially life threatening condition that requires urgent medical attention.

What is Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition affecting 1 in 500 children with onset over days or weeks. The condition tends to occur in childhood or early adult life and will require daily insulin therapy. It is caused by the body’s own immune system destroying the insulin-making cells (beta-cells) of the pancreas.

Diagnosis in very young children

Children under three to five years of age with Type I diabetes comprise a small proportion of all those with Type 1 Diabetes. When a sick infant or toddler presents to their GP, Type I diabetes is generally not high on the list of possible diagnoses, given the relatively low incidence of the condition in this age group.

If your child is unwell without a definite cause, ask your GP to check for Type 1 diabetes.

A simple finger-prick test at your GP 2

Managing your Child’s Diabetes