A person living with Type 1 diabetes, or already parenting to a child with it, is always on watch for their children to show symptoms of the disease. We hold vigil that it won't strike again.
Now, researchers are working on a new public health model for screening for type 1 diabetes that could give people advanced knowledge of that risk.
I have one child with diabetes. For many years, I chose not to screen my other child beyond the occasional finger poke. I initially looked at it like, "Do you really want to know if you are going to develop Alzheimer's?" I sure don't; that information is better told to someone else once I have it. But as time rolled by our family did choose to participate in TrialNet studies, a network of researchers who offer studies and screenings for people with type 1 diabetes and their families.
Screening can be a thorny subject for some families already touched by type 1 diabetes — unless they see the identifiable benefits in disease prevention and treatment associated with screening. The TEDDY screening model actually goes one step further with screening the general public for type 1 diabetes.
Controversial in its own right, Dr. Hagopian said this of the TEDDY screening model at the recent ADA Scientific Sessions: "Some people, for instance, argue that identifying people who will develop type 1 diabetes and benefit from treatment is equivalent to “finding a needle in a haystack,” while others contend that it is unethical to identify these individuals without an FDA-approved treatment available to prevent progression to the disease."
Researchers' lofty goals are focused on identification of environmental factors that cause islet autoimmunity and ultimately type 1 diabetes. I often wonder what the environmental blow is that converts a healthy family into one that has three children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the same year. Wouldn't it be nice to know?