Early detection: how Type 1 diabetes screening can change lives

Karen Addington, the CEO of JDRF has called for population screening for the first signs of Type 1 diabetes, not only to provide a better quality of life for those who go on to develop the condition, but also to generate significant long-term savings for our healthcare providers.

 Further to the recent story about Oxford University’s new UK registry for children and adults at risk of Type 1 diabetes (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-68535183.amp), there is evidence that early detection leads to better healthcare outcomes for cancer and dementia. JDRF are now calling for the same access to early detection for Type 1 diabetes.

Many of the typical signs and symptoms of Type 1 diabetes can easily be attributed to other causes.  Over 80% of people diagnosed with Type 1 have no family history of the condition, so for many people the condition comes out of the blue, and – for most people with the condition – it is not detected until 60-80% of their insulin-producing beta cells have been destroyed. This is why, in England and Wales, one in four children is diagnosed in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a potentially fatal illness, which occurs when a severe lack of insulin means the body cannot use glucose for energy and starts to break down fat instead.

The screening of people who are in the early stages of developing Type 1 diabetes can help provide these individuals, their families and support networks, with information about the symptoms that indicate Type 1 diabetes is progressing, and what to do when those signs show up.

As a result, JDRF are calling for three key actions to make sure that early detection programmes benefit people with Type 1:

  • A targeted screening programme, free at the point of need, combined with education and support.
  • Disease-modifying treatments, such as teplizumab, made available on the NHS.
  • People who are found to have two or more antibodies (indicating they will develop Type 1 diabetes) to be offered regular glucose checks.

 To find out more, CLICK HERE.


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