Key Takeaways for Screening and Diagnosis of T1D

Kimberly Simmons, MD, provides resources for patients with T1D, and key takeaways for pediatricians screening for and diagnosing T1D in pediatric patients.

Tina Q. Tan, MD: What resources would you direct pediatricians to that they can share with their patients regarding type 1 diabetes [T1D] and the screening for the condition?

Kimberly Simmons, MD: I think for screening for type 1 diabetes, there are a couple of places to go toget great information. I think the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation [JDRF] in New York, New York has a lot of information with their T1 Detect program, which helps people understand what screening means and where to get screened. Again, our Ask the Experts programs at the University of Colorado in Aurora, Colorado, have really similar information to JDRF, is another place that people could go to get information and resources and support. I think those are the 2 places I might start with. But we have links on both of those websites to other organizations and other research programs that also have really valuable information.

Tina Q. Tan, MD: What are some takeaway points that you feel are important that those individuals that are watching know regarding what we’ve been discussing?

Kimberly Simmons, MD: I think it’s important to know that you do not need to have a family history of type 1 diabetes to develop type 1 diabetes. And that the majority of people that develop type 1 diabetes are completely healthy and don’t seem to have any underlying risk factors. So, whether you have a family history where your risk is increased a little bit, or you’re somebody who doesn’t, it is a possibility for you to get screened for type 1 diabetes and to know whether you’re at risk. And screening is a simple test. It’s a blood draw or a finger poke, and it is widely available. So, families need to decide if that’s the information that they want. If they do want that information, then it is something they have access to. I think that’s really one important part.

Then I think the other important thing for pediatricians, and other physicians and providers, is that you should always have type 1 diabetes on your differential. Because it really can happen in any kid, and it masks quite often as a stomach bug or a growth spurt or some other sickness during the viral season. It’s really easy to miss because of all the respiratory stuff going around, and somebody is a little fatigued and maybe breathing not quite normally. So, it’s always a good idea to go ahead and check urine for glucose or check blood glucose levels and roll it off the differential. And then for families who know that they’re antibody positive, it’s really important to always be monitoring for symptoms and to not just attribute it to a growth spurt or an illness but to always reach out if they’re noticing any of those symptoms.

Tina Q. Tan, MD: Should pediatricians incorporate type 1 diabetes screenings into their routine visits for kids of specific ages?

Kimberly Simmons, MD: I think that almost all the criteria is there for having T1D be a screening test that’s recommended clinically. I think the one thing that’s still being worked out is the cost-benefit analysis, but I think it would be wonderful from almost every perspective to have it included in the normal guidelines where kids have their vaccinations, their blood and hemoglobin test.

Tina Q. Tan, MD: Kimberly, thank you so much for this very rich and informative discussion. I learned a lot about type 1 diabetes and type 1 diabetes screening. I want to thank our viewing audience for tuning in. And if you enjoyed the content of this discussion, please subscribe to our e-newsletters to receive upcoming peers and prospective program announcements and other great content in your inbox.

Transcript edited for clarity

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