The forchheim clinical center is taking part in a study by the helmholtz center in munich on the early detection of type 1 diabetes. This is an autoimmune disease that is becoming increasingly prevalent in children.
According to a press release from the hospital, between 2100 and 2300 children up to the age of 15 fall ill with the disease every year throughout germany. Certain antibodies are wrongly directed against the body’s own tissue – against the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas – and destroy them.
The causes are only partially known: "in the past, we thought there was a single cause of diabetes, but we’ve moved away from that. We now know that it is an interplay of different factors", says professor annette-gabriele ziegler, director of the institute for diabetes research at the helmholtz center munich. Genetic and environmental factors as well as immune system responses are involved in the development of type 1 diabetes.
Since the 1. January the forchheim clinical center participates in the "freder1k study, an early detection screening of newborns that analyzes genetic components. In this unique europe-wide project of the institute for diabetes research at the helmholtz center, parents have the opportunity to have their child tested free of charge for the risk of developing type 1 diabetes in connection with regular newborn screening.
The test uses two drops of blood from the baby’s heel or umbilical cord to determine whether risk genes are present. Children who carry these risk genes and develop diabetes usually have no relatives with diabetes. That means the disease can affect anyone. The screening is suitable for children up to the age of four months.
The forchheim clinic sends in the blood drops. Parents receive no notification if test results are normal. The screening is voluntary. 92 percent of those born in january 2018 take the exam.