Parents' knowledge of the main symptoms of Type 1 diabetes has risen significantly over the past year, according to a survey released today.

Diabetes UK says awareness of the four symptoms is now 14%, compared to 9% this time last year.

The charity has been running a campaign to improve people's understanding in a bid to reduce the high proportion of children with Type 1 diabetes, characterised by the body's inability to produce insulin, who are not diagnosed quickly and become ill as a result.

It is estimated that happens in about a quarter of all cases, often because parents do not recognise the symptoms.

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, told MSN news: "In too many cases, children with Type 1 diabetes are not diagnosed until they are seriously ill and in a few tragic cases this delay in diagnosis can even be fatal.

"This does not have to happen. By making parents aware of the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes, we can help make sure children have the best possible chance of being diagnosed quickly.

"This is why it is good news that parents are now more aware of the 4 Ts of Type 1 diabetes than they were a year ago.

"But there is still a long way to go, as parents who are aware of all four symptoms are still the exception rather than the rule."

The "4 Ts" of Type 1 diabetes are tiredness, toilet (as those with the condition often need to urinate frequently), thirsty and thinner.

Baroness Young said: "Because children with Type 1 diabetes might have just one or two of the symptoms, it is important that parents know them all and also understand that if their child has any of them then they should take them straight to the GP.

"Also, we still hear of cases of GPs prescribing antibiotics or telling parents to see what happens in the next couple of weeks.

"But because children with Type 1 diabetes can become very seriously ill very quickly, it is really important that parents have the confidence to politely insist that their child gets a test for Type 1 diabetes right there and then."

The best known of the symptoms is tiredness, the survey of 925 parents discovered, with 63% correctly linking it to Type 1 diabetes.

The least well-known was weight loss, which 30% were aware of, with 42% knowing about the need to urinate and 61% recognising that excessive thirst was a symptom.