A simple blood test, conducted routinely in children around the age of one year, can predict the risk of future Diabetes Type I onset. Some 40% of children diagnosed with diabetes each year at Schneider Children's arrive with diabetic metabolic acidosis – a life-threatening condition that ensues due to delayed diagnosis.
By screening infants 9-18 months of age through a speck of blood as part of the routine blood test conducted at age 1-2 years, early diagnosis of the risk of developing Diabetes Type I in the future will reduce severe morbidity levels to under 5%.
Each year, about 40% of children who are diagnosed with Type I Diabetes at Schneider Children's arrive with diabetic metabolic acidosis (also called diabetic ketoacidosis or DKA). This condition is manifested by nausea, vomiting, increased thirst and urine, stomach aches, shortness of breath and sometimes even loss of consciousnessand is accompanied by long-term effects such as lowered metabolic balance, increased risk of heart and vascular diseases and cognitive impairments.
Diabetes Awareness Month will open this year with an extraordinary breakthrough: new research to be headed by Prof. Moshe Phillip and Dr. Tal Oron of the Institute of Endocrinology and Diabetes at Schneider Children's will check blood tests for the risk of developing Diabetes Type I in the future at a level of 85% certainty. The aim is to prevent DKA by the time of actual diagnosis.
Children falling within the risk category will be able to participate in research to test therapies to defer disease onset, among them a drug that is currently awaiting approval of the FDA.
The study will use innovative technology based on PCR which identifies pancreatic antibodies through a tiny speck of blood. The research will take place initially at 25 Clalit clinics around the country, with the aim of expanding the study to include all clinics in the future. The research, supported by world JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), is being led by Schneider Children's in partnership with Rambam, Ichilov, Tel Hashomer, Soroka and Hadassah hospitals.
According to Prof. Phillip, "The close follow-up of children found to be in the risk category will help in preventing serious damage as occurs today in many children who are diagnosed late. The pancreatic antibodies that lead to diabetes usually develop in the body around the age of one to two years, and therefore the importance of performiong the test at this age."