A child with undiagnosed diabetes died due to delays in seeking medical help during the pandemic.
Professor Adrian Edwards, a part-time general practitioner and professor of general medicine at Cardiff University, said the child was a patient in his practice in Torfaen.
Professor Edwards, who is also director of Cardiff University’s Wales Covid-19 Evidence Center, spoke to a Senedd committee on the pandemic’s impact on the mental and physical health of children and adolescents and said a delay in seeking help or diagnosis could have tragic consequences.
“This leads to both physical and mental health problems, delays in diagnosis or presentation and management. This can have all sorts of implications depending on what you’re talking about, but is likely to result in more serious illnesses, sometimes dangerous and sometimes tragic.
“I don’t want to describe too much about individual situations, but we saw in my practice in Torfaen that a child died of undiagnosed type 1 diabetes. And we can think of other illnesses like severe asthma and mortality. “
Type 1 diabetes causes the levels of glucose in the blood to become too high when the body cannot make enough insulin to control it. It is usually treated with daily injections of insulin. The condition is not the same as type 2 diabetes, which is related to age and weight.
(Image: Western Mail)
Professor Edwards joined other medical experts on March 4 who presented evidence to the Senedd Children Young People and Education Committee of the effects of Covid on the physical and mental health of adolescents.
They said there has been a decrease in children and teenagers seeking help with medical problems, likely a combination of families not wanting to burden the NHS, and some fears about the coronavirus itself. There also appears to be an increase in mental health problems even though there was no data for Wales only, the committee heard.
Dr. David Tuthill, consultant pediatrician and official for Wales at the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, said Covid itself has minimal risk to children’s health, but the effects of the pandemic and lockdown have had an impact.
He said he understood that no child had died of Covid in Wales, but he got the impression that there were more delays in referral for children with other medical issues than for adults. Some children were also “injured” because they were unnecessarily shielded.
The lack of opportunities to play outside, go to school, socialize, or participate in group activities has impacted their mental and physical health in a number of other ways as well.
Dr. Tuthill predicted an increase in obesity as a result of children being less physically active and potentially snacking more at home in lockdown.
“I think mental health has been badly affected. Last winter at the Children’s Hospital (for Wales) I had 30 children (usually) on the ward and 10 or 15 of them were babies with bronchiolitis. Today I am on the ward with 19 children, eight of whom are mostly mentally ill. That is twice as much as it used to be. “
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He said early data from the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health suggested that cot occupancy across the UK had increased from 5% for pre-pandemic mental health problems to 12%.
The protection of remittances, many of which came from schools before school closed, had also fallen by two-thirds to three-quarters since the start of the “worrying” pandemic.
Professor Ann John, professor of public health and psychiatry at Swansea University Medical School and chair of the Welsh Government’s National Advisory Group on Suicide and Self-Injury Prevention, said some children were less stressed about not going to school. Any rise in mental health problems could belong to a different group of children than those who previously sought help – those who may lack school and group support. This should be looked at further, she said,
And she cautioned that using the term “catching up” to explore how to fill gaps created by school closings runs the risk of some children feeling like they have fallen behind, which is potential Problems exacerbated.
Rather than catching up on summer academic activities to help children reengineer socially and physically, they should be considered.
She said it was important to take a more positive view of helping young people after the pandemic.