A SEVEN-year-old diabetic girl has become the youngest person in York to be fitted with an insulin pump – meaning she no longer has to have up to six injections a day.

Ruby Swords, of Wetherby Road, in Acomb, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was only three years old.

But after four years of injections, including learning to inject herself, Ruby has had a pump fitted which keeps her insulin levels topped up.

Ruby said: “I could eat as much chocolate as I want, but it’s up to mum and dad.”

Her father, William, said his daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after he and her mum noticed she was lethargic and going to the toilet a lot.

He said: “We had no experience of diabetes at all. There is no history of diabetes in the family, so it was all new to us.

“When she was first diagnosed a nurse would give her injections twice a day, but we were then given instructions on what to do and sent off to look after her ourselves.”

But the twice-daily insulin injections were not very successful in treating her condition and Ruby would have erratic blood-sugar levels.

So it was decided to put her on to multiple daily injections, involving up to six a day. But despite being so young, William said his daughter never complained about the needles.

Last August, when she was six, she started injecting herself.

William said: “She still needed guidance as you have to have the correct dosage. The insulin pen, which for us is quite small, is big to hold when you’re only six.”

Because Ruby still needed help her mum, Gill, had to go to her school at lunchtimes to help with the injection, meaning she had to drastically alter her working hours.

But then William and Gill heard about insulin pumps through the internet forum www.childrenwithdiabetes.com. In January, a pump was fitted. It means the multiple injections are finished with and the insulin only needs to be topped up once every three days.

William said: “It’s miles better. It’s a lot easier for her, she doesn’t need the injections, it’s a better quality of life and we don’t need to go into her school.”

Gill said: “We’re really grateful to the hospital and to nurse Kate Poole and Dominic Smith, the consultant, as they have been really positive and helpful. Also the school has been really supportive and all those things together have made it a success.”

Ruby has now helped others with diabetes as she gave a talk to other children at York Hospital about how the pump works and what it feels like.

Big increase in Type 1 diabetes

It is not known why diabetes develops, but Type 1 results in the body being unable to produce insulin to control the sugar levels of the blood.

If left untreated long-term effects can include strokes, kidney failure, blindness and an increase risk of heart disease.

There has been a huge increase in diabetes Type 1 in children and teenagers although the reasons behind it are unknown.

Dominic Smith, the lead consultant for paediatric diabetes at York Hospital, is Ruby’s consultant.

He said: “Nationally, there has been a 50 per cent increase in numbers of new patients under 16 with Type 1 diabetes over the last 20 years, and there are around 150 children in York with Type 1 diabetes.

“Insulin pump therapy has been around for a number of years, however there have been recent improvements in the technology, and many centres in the UK are now using it. A large number of adult diabetics in York are already using insulin pump therapy, but it is only just beginning to be used with children.”

He said that his young patients have regular blood sugar checks and have insulin injections to manage their condition.

Their diabetes is managed with help from parents and school staff, and the children visit the hospital’s clinic four times a year.

Dr Smith said: “We have an active family support group that organises education and support events for families, including raising awareness of symptoms of diabetes, which can include more frequent passing of urine, increased thirst, and weight loss.”