New research surveys released by medical device company Abbott have revealed the impact of childhood type 1 diabetes (T1D) on the emotional and mental health of children and their families in the UK.

The research, undertaken both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, sought to examine the impact of T1D on the mental health of children and their families.

The first study, which spanned six countries including the UK, surveyed parents, carers and their children before the pandemic, while the second aimed to understand the effects of lockdown in this population.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Abbott’s first survey found that almost half (44%) of UK parents and carers believe their child has issues with mental health due to their T1D diagnosis.

In addition, the research found half of UK parents and carers of children with T1D reported that their child become more anxious following their diagnosis.

In a more recent survey, conducted in October 2020, nearly half of parents and carers reported that they think their child is more anxious as a result of the pandemic. Around three quarters are also more worried about their child’s T1D due to fear of the virus.

However, some respondents (33%) reported that living with T1D helped their child cope better with lockdown restrictions.

“We know that diabetes is a relentless condition that can be both a physical and mental challenge,” said Douglas Twenefour, deputy head of care at Diabetes UK.

“The diagnosis and management of Type 1 diabetes can be overwhelming for an adult during normal times, so we can only imagine the additional pressures a child or adolescent currently has to face during a global pandemic. That is why it is so important to talk about how you feel and get professional support,” he added.