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In people with type 1 diabetes (T1D), the immune system destroys cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Insulin helps you use the energy from foods you eat. A person who has T1D needs lifelong daily insulin injections to stay healthy. Screening for T1D with a blood test for T1D markers (islet autoantibodies) can identify children who are at high risk of developing T1D and can prevent children from getting very sick.

1.    Most children with T1D (90%)  DO NOT have a family member with T1D.
2.    Most children who develop T1D are otherwise healthy.
3.    Type 1 diabetes can be hard to recognize.

Symptoms of increased thirst, increased urination and lack of weight gain or weight loss can be hard to recognize. Because these symptoms can be subtle, early T1D can look like a growth spurt or even a change in thirst associated with a change in routine or the weather. Sometimes, parents simply don’t realize that their child is urinating more while at school or during the night. 
4.    Screening for T1D and having a healthcare team support your family if you screen positive can prevent your child from becoming very sick with DKA and needing treatment in a pediatric intensive care unit.
Although rates vary across the United States, in Colorado nearly 60% of children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are sick enough to have diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and require treatment in the intensive care unit. DKA happens when the body doesn’t make enough insulin to allow sugar into cells for energy. The body starts breaking down fat for energy, and when fat is broken down, ketones are made. Ketones can build up to dangerous levels that can lead to a child being very sick.  Children detected by screening for T1D associated autoantibodies rarely progress to DKA. Prior studies at the Barbara Davis Center, including the TEDDY and DAISY studies have shown that 90% of children who know they have the autoantibodies for T1D and are connected with a healthcare team avoid DKA at onset of diabetes.

5.    T1D Prevention trials or treatment options may be available if your child screens positive.


 NEXT STEPS:  If you have questions about screening for type 1 diabetes, interpreting screening results or determining a follow-up plan after receiving results, please e-mail us at or call us at 303-724-1275 and a member of ASK the Experts will reach out to you.