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The ELSA study - screening children for type 1 diabetes

November 2022
UK wide
University of Birmingham
EarLy Surveillance for Autoimmune diabetes

Researchers in the ELSA team at the University of Birmingham are recruiting 20,000 children aged 3-13 years in the UK, to explore the benefits and understand how families feel about screening children for type 1 diabetes. The team is testing for markers of type 1 diabetes in the blood, known as autoantibodies. As the number of autoantibodies a child has rises, this increases their risk of developing type 1 diabetes in the future.

3 in 1000 children are at high risk of developing type 1 diabetes in the future. The only way we can find these children is through screening.

Screening allows us to pick up type 1 diabetes sooner. This stops children at risk of developing type 1 diabetes from becoming dangerously unwell, avoiding emergency hospital admissions for type 1 diabetes. Children at high risk can also be followed up closely to see when treatment for type 1 diabetes needs to be started, giving them a 'softer landing' with their diagnosis. These children could also enter research trials, testing new treatments which aim to slow or stop type 1 diabetes from developing.

There are five steps in the study:

  1. A simple finger prick blood test to screen for autoantibodies (20,000 children)
  2. Venous blood test (taking a blood sample from a vein) to test for autoantibodies (for children who screened positive at stage 1)
  3. Venous blood tests to find out how type 1 diabetes has progressed (for children who tested positive at stage 2)
  4. Education session (for parents of children at-risk)
  5. Interviews with parents/guardians to provide feedback on the screening programme

To find out more and to sign up, head to the ELSA diabetes website.

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