Childhood diseases in the UK

9th May 2003 at 01:00
Chronic

Asthma

Most common childhood condition affecting around 1.4 million

Causes: Complex - may be a combination of genetic and environmental factors, but common triggers are allergy to dust mites, animal fur and grass pollen. Attacks may also be provoked by viral infections such as colds

Symptoms: wheezing, tight chest or a cough after exercise

Diabetes - type 1

Relatively rare, affecting around 16,000 children

Causes: Unknown, but some children may be genetically predisposed to the condition

Symptoms: Extreme thirst and passing of urine; weight loss; blurred vision and skin infections. A condition called ketoacidosis - which can lead to diabetic coma and is characterised by breath smelling of pear drops - is also a classic sign.

Diabetes - type 2

Confirmed cases are in "low double figures".

Causes: Poor diet (in particular high sugar intake) leading to obesity.

Symptoms: Similar to Type 1 diabetes.

Sickle Cell Anaemia

3,500 newborns carry the gene, 200 develop the disease

Causes: An inherited disorder caused by abnormal haemoglobin (the blood's oxygen carrier)

Symptoms: pain in the joints and other bones, fatigue, breathlessness, delayed growth and puberty, susceptibility to infections and attacks of abdominal pain

Acute

HIVAIDS

Around 1,300 children currently affected

Causes: Mother to infant and bloodtissue transfer

Symptoms: HIV - sometimes a flu-like illness or no symptoms; AIDS - Slow growth or suffer many opportunistic illnesses Leukaemia

Around 400 new cases diagnosed every year

Causes: Not known

Symptoms: the child is usually pale with other symptoms of anaemia.

Bruising and sometimes a rash consisting of tiny bleeding spots

Measles

Small numbers

Causes: A viral infection, spread by exhaled droplets

Symptoms: Runny nose, red eyes and a dry cough. A mild fever before a rash develops, usually behind the eyes and then rapidly spreading over the face and body

Tuberculosis

Numbers: small

Causes: the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, transmitted from person to person. Can be also be spread through infected cow's milk

Symptoms: loss of energy and appetite and later cough, sputum and weight loss.

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