Jan. 17 (UPI) -- A new screening may forecast type 1 diabetes risk in babies, a new study says.
The new risk score known as the T1DGRS2 showed twice the efficiency as existing tests in predicting the chance of babies developing Type 1 diabetes, new findings published Thursday in Diabetes Care.
"Prediction of what diseases we might get in the future is an important area, and type 1 diabetes has a strong genetic element that we are now able to measure very well," Richard Oram, a researcher at University of Exeter, said in a press release. "Measurement of the type 1 diabetes genetic risk score could help predict who will develop the condition from early life could help with research into potential early life interventions, and with classifying diabetes correctly at diagnosis."
Current type 1 diabetes tests measure islet autoantibodies, or proteins in the blood that indicate beta cell destruction. But that test is expensive and hard to do with children.
During their research, the scientists discovered that half of type 1 diabetes cases develop in adulthood.
They also say the new test is more accurate, and can even help to distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
To create the test, the researchers examined genetic variation and gene interactions throughout the entire genome from more than 6,500 type 1 diabetes patients. They compared their results to current genetic tests for type 1 diabetes.
"Gathering all this genetic information together allows the test to perform better. This makes a prediction of type 1 diabetes among all children much more affordable in public health settings," Oram said. "Parents can be warned to watch for early symptoms to avoid hospitalization for life-threatening complications. Kids with the greatest future risk can get access to research trials to develop ways to delay or prevent progression to clinical diabetes."
According to the American Diabetes Association, 1.25 million people in the U.S. have type 1 diabetes and about 40,000 Americans develop are diagnosed with the condition each year.
"It's exciting to see the power of genetics being harnessed to help predict who might develop type 1 diabetes in the future, particularly from a young age. If successful, this approach could help to reduce someone's risk of being misdiagnosed or developing complications during diagnosis," said Anna Morris, Assistant Director of Research Strategy and Partnership at Diabetes UK and study author. "In the future, this research could also open up new insights into what could be done to stop Type 1 diabetes from progressing."