Unlike type 2 diabetes, which has been linked to obesity and other lifestyle factors, type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. Type 1 diabetes primarily affects those under the age of 25. Researchers say they have found a new, more accurate way to predict which babies will develop type 1 diabetes – potentially opening up the possibility of preventive treatment. 

As outlined last week in a letter published by the journal Nature Medicine, the researchers say they have developed a “combined risk score” test that takes into account genetics, family history of diabetes, and biomarkers known to be linked to type 1 diabetes. When all those elements were considered together, the researchers report that they were able to “approach dramatically improved prediction of which children would develop type 1 diabetes,” forecasting whether children under the age of two would end up with type 1 diabetes by the age of eight.   

They have already followed 7800 children at a high risk of developing type 1 diabetes, from birth over nine years, for “The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young” (TEDDY) study. TEDDY study is now being put to a trial. The researchers say the same approach could potentially be used to predict whether newborns will develop other childhood diseases that are strongly linked to genetics, including celiac disease.