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Bringing Type 1 Diabetes Screening to All

Type 1 diabetes screening can identify at-risk individuals prior to a T1D diagnosis and help prevent instances of life-threatening DKA.


Frank J. Martin, Ph.D.

Senior Director of Research, JDRF

Approximately 40-60 percent of people in the United States present with life-threatening diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) at the time of a type 1 diabetes (T1D) diagnosis. There is a way to change that, however. T1D screening can identify at-risk individuals prior to a T1D diagnosis. 

DKA is scary. It is a major and life-threatening complication due to a shortage of insulin, causing symptoms like dehydration, nausea, vomiting, confusion, or, in extreme cases, coma or death. Luckily, JDRF-funded scientists have discovered how to identify at-risk individuals prior to a T1D diagnosis.

Scientists have discovered that having two or more specific autoantibodies — antibodies that are directed toward your own body — means that you have an almost 100 percent chance of developing T1D in your lifetime. Doctors can screen for these autoantibodies, and JDRF-funded studies have shown that screening followed by close monitoring can help significantly decrease the risk of DKA and produce other beneficial health outcomes. It also opens the opportunity to participate in clinical trials to potentially delay or prevent this disease from occurring at all.  

It’s time to shake things up. JDRF is leading the movement to end T1D!

Delaying T1D

There are therapies in the pipeline, like teplizumab, that can delay the onset of T1D for nearly three years in people with two or more autoantibodies. This drug was the first ever to delay T1D onset in humans and is now being considered by the FDA for approval.  

For many years, programs have helped screen and monitor T1D family members and helped them enroll in clinical trials, which is still a great way to get screened if you have a family history of the disease.  However, such programs don’t capture the 93 percent of people who do not have a family history of T1D. Without having access to T1D risk screening and knowledge of their risk status, these people won’t have the time to prepare for a T1D diagnosis and prevent the risk of dangerous DKA events or enroll in a potentially life-changing clinical trial.  

JDRF launched T1Detect to equip the public with knowledge about the benefits of screening, provide a new avenue to get screened, and offer personal support to those determined to be at risk.   

How you can help 

If you or someone you know doesn’t have T1D and hasn’t been screened, then visit jdrf.org/t1detect. You can learn more about T1D screening, order an in-home test kit from the testing lab, collect a blood sample, and return it. It’s that easy. 

Every day, JDRF is moving and shaking toward progress to improve the lives of people living with T1D.

The testing lab will provide the autoantibody results in a few weeks, as well as explanations of what the results mean and important next steps if the results are positive. If you want to share your results with JDRF, you will receive personal support, additional education, and resources to help you navigate your next steps.  

If even T1Detect helps even just one person avoid DKA — as well as the risk, hospital costs, and worry that it brings — then we have done our job to improve outcomes and eliminate DKA at diagnosis. 

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