Bethesda, Md (November 10, 2008) — The focus of this year’s World Diabetes Day (Nov. 14) – Diabetes in Children and Adolescents – has particular urgency for former Miss America Nicole Johnson. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 19, she now has a 2-year-old daughter, Ava, whose chances of inheriting her disease are about 1 in 25.
Due to the increasing incidence in type 1 diabetes, especially in children under the age of 5, Nicole has every reason to be concerned and, more importantly, act. Each year in the U.S. alone, approximately 15,000 children and adolescents are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Earlier this year, Nicole had Ava screened through Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet, an international research effort led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that is exploring ways to prevent and delay type 1 diabetes. This screening, which consists of a simple blood test, could reveal an increased risk for type 1 diabetes up to 10 years before symptoms occur. Through TrialNet, diabetes researchers at more than 150 locations are offering this screening to eligible family members of people with type 1 diabetes.
“The information you get from this blood test is vital,” says Johnson, “because if my daughter is destined to get type 1 diabetes, we want to know at the earliest stages.”
“Screening is important,“ explains Desmond Schatz, M.D., principal investigator for Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet at University of Florida College of Medicine and one of the world’s leading experts on type 1 diabetes. “People who are identified through screening as being at increased risk—those who have the autoantibodies for type 1 diabetes—can consider joining research studies that are testing ways to prevent or delay the disease.”
If diabetes can be delayed, even for a few years, those at risk may be able to postpone the difficult challenges of trying to control their glucose levels and the potential development of complications. Potential complications of type 1 diabetes include heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney damage and lower-limb amputations.
Johnson says, “Right now, I don’t know what the future holds. I do know my daughter has at least some of my genes that could predispose her to this condition. If her future test results come back positive, we will do everything we can to try to prevent or delay this disease. As a family, we are committed to being a part of the discovery process for type 1 diabetes. We want to be part of the diabetes solution.”
Funded by NIH, TrialNet is also supported by the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International and the American Diabetes Association. The Diabetes Research Institute’s Dr. Jay Skyler serves as the TrialNet National Chairman.
To learn more about type 1 diabetes screenings and research studies, call 1-800-425-8361, or visit DiabetesTrialNet.org.