Health Information

Screening for Type 1 Diabetes

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The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually administered to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.

Screening Guidelines

According to the American Diabetes Association, about 1 in every 400-500 children and teens have type 1 diabetes.

Screening is usually only done in people who have symptoms, which may include:

  • Weight loss
  • Increased urination
  • Extreme thirst
  • Hunger
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Blurry vision
  • Irritability
  • Headaches

Screening will also be done if you are at high risk for type 1 diabetes, such as:

  • Having a family history of type 1 diabetes (especially if you have a twin with the condition)
  • Having a personal history of hyperglycemia

If you have symptoms of type 1 diabetes or risk factors, report them to your doctor so that you can be tested.

Screening Tests

Random Plasma Glucose Test

Your doctor may do a blood test to check your blood sugar level. A measurement of 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) [11.1 mmol/L] or higher indicates that you may have diabetes. Further testing will be done to confirm the diagnosis.

Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c)

The HbA1c test is a good indicator of your average blood sugar levels over the previous 2-4 months. If your HBA1c level is 6.5% or higher, this indicates a diagnosis of diabetes.

Islet Cell Antibodies

People with type 1 diabetes produce autoantibodies that attack and destroy the islet cells that make insulin. Researchers have found that these autoantibodies appear in the blood long before the development of diabetes symptoms. The immune system seems to slowly attack the pancreas. One way that doctors can screen for type 1 diabetes is to measure autoantibodies. However, this test is not routinely done.

Revision Information

  • American Diabetes Association. Diabetes statistics. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-statistics/. Accessed August 4, 2010.

  • Annals of Internal Medicine. Development of islet cell autoantibodies and type 1 diabetes. Annals of Internal Medicine website. Available at: http://www.annals.org/content/140/11/I-64.full. Published June 1, 2004. Accessed August 5, 2010.

  • DynaMed Editorial Team. Type 1 diabetes. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated July 15, 2010. Accessed August 4, 2010.

  • Kassel K. Diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated February 2010. Accessed August 9, 2010.