Leader of Florida's screening program for type 1 diabetes supports program's effectiveness

Orlando, FL -- Type 1 diabetes occurs when cells of the immune system attack insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Because all of their beta cells are destroyed, type 1 diabetics are dependent on insulin injections to control their blood sugar levels. The peak time for developing type 1 diabetes is during puberty, although it can occur at any age. The incidence of type 1 diabetes is increasing worldwide and the disease is an onerous burden both to the individual and to society. In the U.S. alone, this disorder affects 700,000 people and is the most common chronic metabolic disorder in children.

From a public health point of view, it would seem that screening for type 1 diabetes is the right thing to do, but some in the medical community have pointed out that screening tests have a low positive predictive value and that predicting the disease without a primary prevention capability raises ethical considerations because of induced stress, lifestyle changes, cost and potential effects on insurability. Additionally, they say, the lack of effective intervention programs to prevent the disease calls in the question of enacting any large-scale population screening.

The authors of To Screen or Not to Screen for Type I Diabetes? are Desmond Schatz MD, and Jin-Xiong She, both from the University of Florida in Gainsville; and Jeffrey Krischer, from the Lee Moffit Cancer Research Center and Research Institute, Tampa, Fla. Their findings are being presented at the 54th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC). AACC (http://www.aacc.org/) is the scientific organization for clinical laboratory professionals, physicians, and research scientists. Their primary commitment is the understanding of laboratory testing to identify, monitor and treat human disease. More than 11,000 attendees are expected for the meeting, which is being held at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Fla.

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Association for Clinical Chemistry

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