Push for autoimmunity screenings in kids

DENVER -- Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease are the two most common autoimmune diseases of childhood, and a new program, focused on Denver, hopes to lead the way toward universal screening for kids nationwide. The mission of ASK, or Autoimmunity Screenings for Kids, is to raise awareness about these two diseases and to reduce the health risks of delayed diagnosis.

Researchers hope to screen 50,000 to 70,000 kids, ages 2-17, in the Denver metro area, and make a case for the cost effectiveness of the screening.

One of the goals is to prevent diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA. It’s a very serious, life-threatening condition that can occur when the body doesn’t process sugar correctly.

More than 40% of new Type 1 cases in Colorado are diagnosed with DKA at onset in the hospital. Researchers hope to catch Type 1 in the early stages, in hopes of preventing DKA. "If we can prevent a family from having to go through that and having to experience that in the hospital, and the cost associated with that, there's a huge cost savings there and a public healthy benefit as well."

Hali Wright brought her two sons in for screenings at the south campus of Children’s Hospital Colorado. "I wish it was a part of their regular wellness visits." If there was anything going on, she says she’d want to get out in front of it.

Screenings will take place as part of the study across the metro area. For more information visit ASKhealth.org.

JDRF International and the Helmsley Charitable Trust selected Denver and the Barbara Davis Center at the Anschutz Medical Campus to pilot the program.

JDRF is hosting its Dream Gala on Saturday, April 15 at 5:30 p.m. Greg Dutra, with Good Day Colorado will emcee.