Can Type 1 Diabetes Be Detected at Birth?

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Researchers in Sweden say that islet autoantibodies are already common at birth in children who develop type 1 diabetes later in life, and that screening for islet cell autoantibodies at birth could be a crucial step in identifying those at risk for developing type 1 diabetes.

The researchers tried to determine whether islet autoantibodies were present at birth in children who developed type 1 diabetes before 15 years of age. According to the February 1999 issue of Diabetologia, 60,000 babies born at Malmo University Hospital in Sweden were monitored between 1969 and 1991. Of the 60,000 babies born, 85 developed type 1 diabetes before they were 15 years old. Four of the children had mothers who had type 1 diabetes, so they were excluded from the study. Three hundred twenty randomly selected children were chosen as controls.

It was discovered that there was a greater number of islet autoantibodies in the children who later developed type 1 diabetes when compared with the 320 control subjects. At least one islet autoantibody was detected in umbilical cord blood serum from 14 (17 percent) of the children who later developed type 1 diabetes, compared with 12 (4 percent) of the control subjects. Additionally, three (4 percent) of the type 1 children had more than one autoantibody discovered in their umbilical cord blood serum at birth, compared to none of the control subjects.

}Islet Autoantibody}Found In Type 1 Patients}Found in Controls

}GAD65Ab }6 percent}2 percent

}ICA512Ab }5 percent}1 percent

}IAA}0 percent}0.3 percent

}ICA}10 percent}0.6 percent

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