Type 1 diabetes screening: Parents in Western Sydney can now register their child for free screening
Parents of infants aged 6-12 months in Western Sydney can now have their child tested for free to determine if they are at risk of developing type 1 diabetes in childhood.
Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong autoimmune condition that affects 1 in 300 children in Australia, (1) 90 per cent of whom have no family history of the condition (2). The current challenge with type 1 diabetes is that it can be difficult to identify, often with children not being diagnosed until they are very sick and require emergency care.
The condition occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. 2 Insulin helps the body convert glucose (sugar) from food into fuel, and without it, glucose can build up in the bloodstream to dangerous levels.
The Type 1 Diabetes National Screening Pilot
, funded by JDRF and led by a team at the University of Sydney, identifies children at risk of developing type 1 diabetes through a free, simple, saliva swab, therefore minimising the chance of serious immediate and long-term health complications.
Offered to infants aged 6-12 months in Western Sydney the simple test can be done from the comfort of your own home or with a local GP or participating pharmacy. Dr Kirstine Bell, who led the development of the program at the University of Sydney explains how it works:
“Parents can register for their free test kit online which will be delivered to their house. All they need to do is collect a saliva swab from their child’s mouth and then post the sample back to us. The test will be analysed to determine if their child is at risk of developing type 1 diabetes in childhood”.
For the majority of children, early screening for type 1 diabetes will show a low chance of developing the condition. Children who are identified as having an increased risk will be notified and invited for regular follow up testing to monitor for very early signs of the condition. For these families, the simple test can provide big outcomes, providing a pathway for earlier diagnosis and improved long-term health outcomes.
While a type 1 diabetes diagnosis will always take an emotional toll on families, early intervention and the right support can help lessen that burden, which is why the Type 1 Diabetes National Screening Pilot
is designed to not only identify those children who may be at risk of developing type 1 diabetes, but to provide education and support along the way.
There is broad network of community and patient organisations in Australia to help children and families living with type 1 diabetes. From emotional support to navigating the practicalities of a type 1 diabetes diagnosis, support is available at every stage.
The research pilot is funded by JDRF, the leading supporter of type 1 diabetes research in the world. JDRF is dedicated to ending type 1 diabetes, and making the lives of people already diagnosed, or at risk of diagnosis, easier, safer, and healthier until that happens.
To find out more about the Type 1 Diabetes National Screening Pilot
and your child’s eligibility to take part please visit http://www.kidsdiabetesscreen.com.au
To find out more about JDRF, visit their website
1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Diabetes. Available at www.aihw.gov.au/reports/diabetes/diabetes/contents/how-many-australians-have-diabetes/type-1-diabetes
[last accessed October 2022]
2. JDRF, What causes type 1 diabetes? Available at: https://jdrf.org.uk/information-support/about-type-1-diabetes/causes-of-type-1-diabetes/
[last accessed October 2022]
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