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Screening Guide

3 steps to understand the 3 stages of type 1 diabetes and then take action. Short on time or need a refresher? Here’s what you need to know about autoimmune type 1 diabetes and the power of screening early.
Screening QUICK START

From who could benefit, to what it is, to how and where to screen. This short download covers autoantibody screening to detect type 1 diabetes early.
Doctor Discussion Guide

Autoantibodies. Stages. Potential risks and benefits. Let's face it: There's a lot to remember about type 1 diabetes and screening, and you may have questions for your doctor. This discussion guide can help support a useful conversation.

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Early-stage autoimmune type 1 diabetes is also known as pre–insulin-dependent diabetes. This is when type 1 diabetes has begun, but the body can still make enough insulin to keep blood sugar in a relatively healthy range. Early-stage autoimmune type 1 diabetes is not the same as the honeymoon stage. The honeymoon stage is a short period after diagnosis of insulin-dependent type 1 diabetes when diabetes symptoms seem to get better.

No. These terms are used interchangeably. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that happens when the body mistakenly makes autoantibodies that attack healthy cells that make insulin. These autoantibodies are what can be detected through screening.

An autoantibody test is a blood test that can spot type 1 diabetes early—before the risk of life-threating complications or the need for insulin. It does this by looking for diabetes-related autoantibodies. These are proteins that appear in the blood when autoimmune type 1 diabetes begins, even in early stages before there are any symptoms. Two or more autoantibodies are a strong sign that the earliest stages of type 1 diabetes may have begun. The test is usually performed by using a finger prick or blood draw.

Each screening option has a different cost. For example, Enable Biosciences offers an at-home test you can get from a doctor. TrialNet offers free screening to those who have a relative with type 1 diabetes. The cost of screening at a lab varies depending on your insurance coverage—but is potentially low cost or even $0 out-of-pocket. Talk to your doctor and insurance provider to find out screening coverage.

An autoantibody test is not the same as a genetic test. An autoantibody test is a blood test that can spot type 1 diabetes early—before noticeable symptoms. It does this by looking for diabetes-related autoantibodies. Based on the results, you may be able to tell if you or your loved one is in the earliest stages of type 1 diabetes.

Genetic testing can identify a higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes over someone's life by looking at their DNA (the building blocks of cells). It can’t give information about whether stages of type 1 diabetes have begun.

Each screening option has a different age restriction. Talk to your doctor to learn which screening option is best for you or your loved one.

Many. Whether a person screens or not, if they have autoimmune type 1 diabetes, it will progress and get worse as time goes on. Eventually, life-threatening complications can happen, often seemingly out of nowhere. Screening can identify the risk of autoimmune type 1 diabetes before symptoms appear.

If a screening test shows that you or your loved one is in the early stages of type 1 diabetes, there’s more that you can do.

Knowing your results can help you:

  • Talk to your doctor about options and keep up with advancements in treatment
  • Learn the symptoms of type 1 before they appear and lower the risks of possible life-threatening complications
  • Find the right care team and type 1 diabetes community to support you

Talk to your doctor about screening and what comes next.

Autoantibodies are proteins that appear in the blood when type 1 diabetes begins, even in early stages before there are any symptoms.

When 2 or more autoantibodies are present, it means the early stages of type 1 diabetes may have begun.

The next steps depend on the results of screening. There are 3 possible results:

  • 0 Autoantibodies: If the test finds no autoantibodies, talk to your doctor about rescreening every year until the age of 18 if other people in your family have type 1
  • 1 Autoantibody: If the test finds 1 autoantibody, you or your loved one is at a higher risk for developing type 1 diabetes. You can talk to your doctor about rescreening first to confirm that there are no additional autoantibodies, and rescreening every year to see if more autoantibodies develop
  • 2+ Autoantibodies: If the test finds 2 or more autoantibodies, this is a strong sign that the earliest stages of type 1 diabetes may have begun. Talk to your doctor about monitoring blood sugars and other next steps, so you can take charge of your health

Anyone, at any age, can develop autoimmune type 1 diabetes—no matter their diet or exercise choices.

If just 1 person in your family has type 1 diabetes, you’re up to 15x more likely to develop it too. That’s why it’s important to screen it like you mean it, so you can learn the results and take action.

To learn more about your or your loved one's risk, talk to your doctor and take The Type 1 Risk Quiz.

Anyone can be screened for diabetes-related autoantibodies, but it’s especially important if others in your family have type 1 diabetes. Talk to your doctor about the best screening option for you or loved one.

Your doctor’s guidance and expertise should always be taken seriously. If you feel like you or a loved one could benefit from early screening, continue having the conversation with your doctor. You can also consider getting a second opinion from a different healthcare professional, like an endocrinologist.

The type 1 diabetes community is a powerful network. If you want to learn more about early screening, find stories about living with type 1 diabetes, or connect with the community, check out some helpful programs below or read about different organizations:

  • Type1Talk: Sign up to get more information and educational resources about the importance of early screening
  • JDRF’s T1Detect Program: Sign up for this education and awareness program to explore additional screening options, available research studies, and steps to take after getting test results
  • Ask the Experts: Call or email an expert to get more information, support, and advice about autoimmune type 1 diabetes and screening

Join the Screen for Type 1 community on social media through Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

Get connected with the COMMUNITY

The type 1 diabetes community has a strong network of patients, families, advocates, healthcare professionals, and organizations that can support you as you get ready to screen it like you mean it.