Early detection and preventive treatment of an increased risk of type 1 diabetes
Between the second and third day of life, newborns are checked for treatable metabolic and hormonal disorders as part of the standard newborn screening tests. In the following, we would like to draw your attention to another free, additional screening test for babies for the early detection of an increased risk of type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease. The test is carried out by a doctor as part of the Freder1k study. It can take place together with the standard newborn screening or separately, within the first seven days after the baby is born. Parents whose children are found to be at an increased risk of developing the disease are given detailed information on the result and what this means for their child in a personal consultation. They are also asked if they would like their child to take part in a study that aims to prevent the disease.
Why is it a good idea to have a screening test for the risk of developing type 1 diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes is the most common metabolic disease in children and adolescents. People with type 1 diabetes have insulin deficiency. Insulin helps transport glucose from your blood into your cells. Children with type 1 diabetes must therefore be treated with insulin for life. One difficult aspect of type 1 diabetes is that it is usually only recognised when the person affected already has serious and sometimes even life-threatening symptoms. Conversely, if children at risk of type 1 diabetes are identified early, families can be offered counselling and regular follow-up checks so that, if the disease develops, it can be detected and treated at an early stage. They may also be able to participate in studies that aim to prevent the development of the disease.
You can find out whether your child is at increased risk of type 1 diabetes as part of the Freder1k study.
What does an increased genetic risk mean?
Type 1 diabetes primarily develops in individuals who have an increased risk of the disease due to the presence of certain genes. The majority of children who are at increased risk and develop type 1 diabetes do not have relatives with the disease. So type 1 diabetes can affect anyone. In our screening test we check whether your child has an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
Who can participate in the screening test?
Parents in various European countries (Belgium, Germany, the UK, Poland and Sweden) can have their children tested for an increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes. In Germany, the screening test is available free of charge in Bavaria, Lower Saxony, Saxony and Thuringia as part of the regular newborn screening in the first few days of life or – currently only in Bavaria and Lower Saxony – as part of the standard screening test (U2) or any other paediatrician visit for babies up to seven days old. Infants all over Germany whose parents or siblings have type 1 diabetes can also take part in the screening test – and this opportunity is also for babies up to seven days old.
How does the screening test for the risk of type 1 diabetes work?
The risk of developing type 1 diabetes is determined by testing a few drops of blood obtained from the umbilical cord or from a small prick in the baby’s heel just after birth. The drops of blood are placed onto specimen collection paper. Your baby should not be more than seven days old at the time of screening. Taking a blood sample poses no danger to your child. The collection of blood could lead to a small bruise, swelling, or infection, but the risk of infection is very low.
What happens if the test result is normal?
You will not be contacted if the test result is normal. This means that no news is good news. If you have not heard from the Institute of Diabetes Research, Helmholtz Zentrum München within six weeks of the test, you can assume that your child does not have a high risk of developing type 1 diabetes. If you are still unsure, you can contact us to ask whether your child has an increased risk of type 1 diabetes.
What happens if the test finds that my child has an increased risk of type 1 diabetes?
If the screening test shows that your child has an increased risk of type 1 diabetes, you will be contacted by the Institute of Diabetes Research, Helmholtz Zentrum München. We will invite you to a personal consultation to explain the result and its significance in detail and ask whether you would like to participate with your child in a study that aims to prevent the development of type 1 diabetes. These studies aim to prevent the development of type 1 diabetes autoimmunity and the development of type 1 diabetes. Independent of this, your child can take part in further tests between the ages of two and ten. If your child develops an early stage of type 1 diabetes, the tests will allow this to be diagnosed in good time so that your child can receive the best possible care and treatment from the outset. This will enable the prevention of life-threatening hyperglycaemia, which can develop relatively quickly and without warning. We provide detailed information and advice to affected children and parents.
>> Take advantage of this opportunity: have your child tested for the risk of developing type 1 diabetes so that they can receive preventive treatment if needed.
Would you like to learn more about the risk of developing type 1 diabetes or preventive treatment? More information is available here.
The SINT1A study is investigating whether a probiotic called B. infantis can prevent the development of type 1 diabetes autoimmunity.
Why should I have my child tested?
6+ good reasons why you should take part in the Freder1k study:
The Freder1k study...
- ... tests your child for an increased risk of type 1 diabetes, the most common metabolic disease in children and adolescents.
- ... identifies the one child in 100 children who is at increased risk of type 1 diabetes.
- ... enables families affected to participate with their child in prevention studies that aim to prevent the onset of type 1 diabetes.
- ... helps with early detection of type 1 diabetes in children with an increased risk through follow-up testing between two and ten years old.
- ... provides affected families with comprehensive advice.
- ... helps reduce any fears and uncertainties about type 1 diabetes for families affected.
Do I have to pay for the screening test?
No. The test is part of the Freder1k study and is free of charge. It is funded as part of the research project.
Is it possible to prevent type 1 diabetes?
We are working on developing new treatment approaches in the early stages that aim to prevent the disease or at least delay its onset. Find out more about our prevention studies:
POInT: With the Primary Oral Insulin Trial (POInT) prevention study, our aim is to use “immune training” to prevent type 1 diabetes in children who have an increased risk of developing the disease. Children between four and seven months old were recruited into the study. The idea is to get the immune system used to the insulin molecule through daily consumption of a small amount of insulin powder with food, up to the age of three, and thus prevent the immune system from attacking the body’s own structures.
Previous studies have indicated that this training can succeed. However, there is no guarantee.
Find out more about the POInT study
SINT1A: The SINT1A study examines whether taking a probiotic (Bifidobacterium Infantis) can prevent the development of type 1 diabetes in children with an increased risk of type 1 diabetes. In the study, the probiotic is given orally (by mouth) as a powder. The aim is for this to positively influence the intestinal flora and thus have a regulating effect on the immune system. The intention is to prevent mistaken and pathogenic immune reactions such those in type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases.
Find out more about the SINT1A study
The Freder1k study for early detection of the disease and the two prevention studies, SINT1A und POInT, were initiated by GPPAD, the Global Platform for the Prevention of Autoimmune Diabetes. GPPAD comprises several academic research institutions and hospitals in Europe. Helmholtz Zentrum München is responsible for coordination. The relevant regulatory authorities have approved the three studies.
More information on participating
You will find more information on how to participate on the webpages for each area. These also list the contact details of the various study centres, which you can contact if you have any questions.
Participating in Bavaria
Participating in Lower Saxony
Participating in Saxony and Thuringia
Participating throughout Germany (for children with a first-degree relative with type 1 diabetes)
Participation for children with relatives with type 1 diabetes in other states in Germany is coordinated via the study centre in Bavaria.