Understanding type 1 diabetes: Should you get screened?


Posted: January 22, 2024 | Word Count: 674

Sponsored by Sanofi

More than 1.4 million Americans have type 1 diabetes — thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction where the body attacks its own cells that produce insulin. Although type 1 diabetes is relatively less common when compared to type 2 diabetes, it’s anticipated that cases of type 1 diabetes in the U.S. are expected to grow to five million by 2050, underscoring one of many reasons why increased awareness about type 1 diabetes is so important.

Type 1 diabetes can be elusive, meaning that while you may have the disease for months or years, outward symptoms can take time — sometimes even years — to show in a noticeable way, resulting in more advanced disease at initial diagnosis. What’s more, when symptoms do finally present themselves, they frequently present with life-threatening complications, such as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). In fact, up to 40% of DKA cases are recorded to be from people newly diagnosed with the disease. Type 1 diabetes also cannot be prevented. With this in mind, understanding risk factors of type 1 diabetes is critical in empowering you to take charge of your health by screening early for this condition. Following are three common risk factors to keep in mind:

Family History

If you have a first-or-second-degree relative who has type 1 diabetes, your risk of developing it increases quite significantly. In fact, if just one person in your family has type 1 diabetes, the chances of you or someone else in your family developing it are up to 15x higher. In most instances, individuals inherit risk factors from their parents, and the risk of developing the condition can be as high as 30% if both biological parents have type 1 diabetes.

That said, even more surprising is that about 90% of those who develop type 1 diabetes do not have a family history of the disease. So, while having a family history of type 1 diabetes is a common risk factor for developing the disease, it is a condition that truly does not discriminate.

Age

In the U.S., type 1 diabetes is among the most common chronic diseases that impacts children. In fact, type 1 diabetes was once commonly referred to as “juvenile diabetes.” That said, we’ve gotten more knowledgeable about this disease over time — and now we know that although type 1 diabetes usually develops in children and adolescents, individuals at any age can develop it. This means that young adults and adults are still at risk, with recent data showing that more than half the people who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are being diagnosed as adults.

Autoimmune Disease

Notably, of individuals with type 1 diabetes, every fifth person also has an additional autoimmune disease — demonstrating the co-occurring nature of these conditions. As such, if you have certain autoimmune conditions, such as celiac or Hashimoto's disease, you may be at a higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

Get Screened Today

While this list does not encompass all potential risk factors — for example, geography and environmental factors can also increase a person’s risk for type 1 diabetes — the most important takeaway is that no one should wait for common symptoms of type 1 diabetes to get screened because it is possible to identify type 1 diabetes in its earlier stages, before common symptoms occur. That is the goal of Sanofi’s The 1 Pledge movement — to drive a national conversation about and action around the importance of early screening for type 1 diabetes.

Take risk factors seriously and talk to your doctor about getting screened today; the more information you have early, the more you and your family can do to become educated about and get prepared for type 1 diabetes. Make your pledge to get screened at The1Pledge.com, which also has more educational information.

Sanofi does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment — information is provided for educational purposes only. Your doctor is the best source of health information. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about your health or treatment.

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