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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 14:29 GMT
Teddy helps children face the needle
Children with teddies Rufus and Ruby
The scheme is a success in the US and Australia
Child sufferers of diabetes can learn the difficult task of injecting themselves with a new scheme that lets them try it out on teddy first.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is launching a scheme to provide teddy bears to children just diagnosed with diabetes.

Complete with their own insulin injecting kit the bears wear absorbent pads so that children can practice on them in as real a way as possible.

The teddies are being launched nationwide on Thursday and its hoped Rufus and Ruby will soon become family favourites among thousands of little children who live with diabetes on a daily basis.

Child with Ruby the teddy from KIDSAC
This won't hurt: The teddy helps children understand diabetes

Diabetes among children is on the increase, across Europe it is rising at a rate of 3-4% per annum in the under-15 age group.

Agonising

The group with the biggest increase is the under fives and in the UK alone Type 1 diabetes in this age group has doubled in the space of 10 years.

For those diagnosed with this type of diabetes one of the most agonising practices is having to inject themselves.

The new KIDSAC pack contains information, a story book, a blood glucose meter and the opportunity to adopt Rufus or Ruby Bear.


It makes the learning process less stressful and easier for him to understand

Sally, mother of Jack

The idea is to teach children about the injections, how to rotate injection sites and to test their blood sugar levels.

Five-year old Nick Taylor, diagnosed two years ago, was lucky enough to get his own Rufus bear thanks to contacts in the States.

His mother Sally said it has made a big difference as Nick learns how to give himself injections.

"Rufus has proved a great help in this process. Nick adores Rufus and is intrigued by injecting him.

"It makes the learning process less stressful and easier for him to understand."

Young children, from just a few months old can be diagnosed with Type 1 juvenile diabetes.

Search for cure

It means learning to live with regular insulin injections, painful blood tests up to six times a day and careful checking of their diet.

Like adult sufferers, children must avoid risky swings in their blood glucose and potentially life-threatening hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia - when the blood sugar level is dangerously below or above what it should be.

Injecting with insulin is important. It does not cure diabetes but can stop the onset of life-threatening conditions such as kidney failure and blindness.

JDRF funds research to find a cure for diabetes and its complications.

KIDSAC, which stands for Kids who are Insulin Dependent Searching for a Cure, has been backed by medical company Bayer Diagnostics.

Researchers are getting closer to finding a cure for juvenile diabetes but it is still a serious condition which in adults shortens the life expectancy by an average of 15 years.

Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of JDRF, said: "We hope Rufus and Ruby will help children to learn about diabetes in terms which they understand, in a comforting and non-threatening way."

Ann Oboko, Paediatric Diabetes Outreach Sister at Guys and St Thomas' Hospital, said it would prove "extremely useful".

See also:

13 Mar 02 | Health
Sickness takes financial toll
28 Dec 01 | Health
Stress 'control' helps diabetics
10 Jun 01 | Health
Diabetes deaths 'unnecessary'
14 Dec 01 | Health
Diabetes care blueprint launched
17 Jun 01 | Health
'An end to insulin jabs'
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