A groundbreaking set of international guidelines has been published, offering a comprehensive framework for monitoring and supporting individuals with early-stage type 1 diabetes.

The new guidance, published in Diabetes Care and Diabetologia, promises to revolutionise the management of type 1 diabetes by providing a structured approach to early diagnosis and care.

It is intended that this will reduce the trauma of diagnosis and improve long-term health outcomes.

Early detection

Recent advancements in understanding the progression of type 1 diabetes have enabled early screening and diagnosis before the need for insulin therapy arises.

Early detection is pivotal, allowing for the possibility of delaying the onset of symptoms and the necessity for insulin.

The guidelines outline strategies for monitoring and supporting individuals from the initial stages of type 1 diabetes, thereby mitigating the mental and financial burden associated with the condition.

Early monitoring

Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease, often progresses unnoticed until insulin therapy is required.

If not diagnosed promptly, it can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis also known as DKA, a potentially fatal condition.

In the UK, 25.6% of children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are admitted in DKA.

Early monitoring can significantly reduce such emergencies by educating individuals about the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes as it progresses.

Research highlights that early-stage type 1 diabetes diagnosis offers numerous benefits, including the prevention of DKA and long-term complications, and is more cost-effective for healthcare systems.

Despite ongoing research projects screening for type 1 diabetes in the UK and globally, there was a lack of consensus on how to monitor disease progression until now.

Key recommendations

The new guidelines, driven by Breakthrough T1D and endorsed by major diabetes organisations such as the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, provide specific recommendations for monitoring and supporting people at risk of or diagnosed with early-stage type 1 diabetes.

These include:

  • Regular blood glucose checks and education on type 1 diabetesfor patients.
  • Partnerships between diabetes specialists and primary care providers to ensure comprehensive care.
  • Access to clinical trials and emerging treatments for patients with early-stage type 1 diabetes.
  • Psychosocial support and educational resources for individuals and their families.

The guidance also stresses the need for further research to refine monitoring strategies and improve clinical care.

More than 60 international type 1 diabetes experts, including Breakthrough T1D-funded researchers, co-authored the document, ensuring its recommendations are both comprehensive and practical.

Hilary Nathan, JDRF UK’s Director of Policy and Communications, emphasised the importance of the guidelines: “Detecting type 1 diabetes in its earliest stages leads to better health outcomes and reduced healthcare costs.

“This guidance is a vital step towards establishing an early detection programme for children and young people in the UK.”

The newly released guidelines represent a significant advancement in the care of individuals with early-stage type 1 diabetes.

By standardising the approach to monitoring and support, the guidelines aim to improve patient outcomes and reduce the overall burden of the disease.

This international effort marks a crucial step towards better management and understanding of type 1 diabetes.

JDRF UK will be rebranding to Breakthrough T1D in October 2024.

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