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Diabetes
  Screening for Type 1 Diabetes

By Amy Adams, MS

Reviewed By Jeremy Walston, MD



If a child has a parent or sibling with Type 1 diabetes, they are at about 15 times higher risk than the general population for developing the disease. There are two tests a doctor can use to find out if a child has inherited a high risk for diabetes. However, because knowing a child's risk does not help doctors prevent the disease, the American Diabetes Association only recommends using these tests in children who have a parent or sibling with diabetes and who are entering to a scientific study that requires the information.

 
 
 

HLA Typing

Certain genes in the HLA (human leukocyte antigen) region of the genome can increase a person's risk for developing diabetes. These genes make proteins that are located on the outside of some immune cells. Doctors can screen a child's immune cells to determine which form of the HLA proteins are present. If the child has high-risk forms of the protein — called DR3 and DR4 — that child has a higher than average risk of developing Type 1 diabetes.

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Antibody Screening

In Type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks insulin-producing pancreas cells. When the immune cells attack the pancreas, they make proteins called antibodies that are designed to fight against pancreas tissue. These antibodies are present as much as eight years before the onset of diabetes. If doctors find these antibodies, the child is at higher risk for developing diabetes than the general population.

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References

American Diabetes Association (1999). Clinical Practice Recommendations 1999. Diabetes Care (Suppl. 1), 22, S1-S114.

Karjalainen, J., Martin, J. M., et al. (1992). A bovine albumin peptide as a possible trigger of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. N Engl J Med, 327, 302-307.

Verge, C. F., Howard, N. J., et al. (1994). Environmental factors in childhood IDDM. A population-based, case- control study. Diabetes Care, 17, 1381-1389.

 

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