CHILDREN’S lives are at risk because doctors are not recognising symptoms of a major disease, experts have warned.

Doctors in Southampton say health professionals are not picking up on signs of type 1 diabetes which is potentially fatal if untreated.

Dr Justin Davies, consultant paediatric endocrinologist at Southampton Children’s Hospital, said patients were being sent to multiple clinics and having unnecessary examinations which can lead to misdiagnoses.

A recent study of 261 children aged between eight months to 16 years found a third had seen multiple doctors before being properly diagnosed, including two-thirds of children under two.

Meanwhile, 25 per cent of the 2,000 children diagnosed with the disease per year have diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

Dr Davies said said: “Despite improvements in diabetes care leading to increased life expectancy, the mortality rate for children with type 1 diabetes remains higher than the general population and DKA is the leading cause of death.

“Unfortunately, the incidence of DKA in a quarter of patients at diagnosis is relatively unchanged from reports over the past 20 years and nearly twice as high as that observed in Sweden. This is a major concern.”

Dr Kemi Lokulo-Sodipe, research fellow at Southampton Children’s Hospital and co-author of the study, added parents should look out for signs such as young children in frequent need of the toilet or consistently wetting the bed.

She said: “As a nation, we need to emphasise that diabetes is common and the incidence is increasing. It can be present in babies and young children and should be at the top of the list in any child with increased toileting – including heavy wet nappies and bedwetting – but also weight loss and fatigue.”

It comes after Southampton General Hospital last month announced a new insulin-pump therapy to treat the thousands of people in the city suffering from the illness.

Diabetes can be diagnosed quickly with a finger-prick test analysing glucose in the blood.