Australian first furthers understanding of type 1 in kids

Friday, 27 March 2020

Australia’s first pilot study to screen children from the general population for early signs of type 1 diabetes will be led by a leading diabetes academic and researcher.

Dr Kirstine Bell, a Credentialled Diabetes Educator and National Health and Medical Research Council Early Career Fellow at the University of Sydney, will drive the pilot to screen children from the general population, without a family history of type 1 diabetes, in only the third study of this kind in the world.

While type 1 is traditionally diagnosed after physical symptoms such as thirst, weight loss and frequent urination have begun, the new study will look for islet autoantibodies. These are chemical markers in the blood that indicate a person is likely to develop type 1, even though they may not have any symptoms.

Diagnosing diabetes at this stage can significantly reduce the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). A similar study in Germany showed a rate of DKA of less than 5% of its participants, compared with the usual rate of 20%.

In Australia, DKA is experienced by almost one third of children with newly diagnosed type 1.

In addition to preventing DKA, people with autoantibodies can start monitoring early, and potentially enrol in clinical trials for new therapies that can delay or prevent the onset of type 1 diabetes.

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