Medical Minute 12-15:

By: Andrew McIntosh Email
By: Andrew McIntosh Email

Adult blindness. Nerve damage. Kidney disease. Lower limb amputation. The leading cause of all of these conditions is diabetes. If trends continue, on in three American kids born in the year 2000 will develop it. But that doesn't mean they'll know they have the disease. Right now, seven million diabetics are undiagnosed in the U.S.

"I started getting dizzy and I started getting really tired easily," said Autumn Russ.
Autumn Russ recently received the news. Now she's a part of a study testing how a machine can assess her risk for serious diabetes' complications.

"Prior to this, the only way you could do this was actually doing a skin biopsy," said Dr. Stuart Chalew, Professor of Pediatrics LSU Health Science Center.

Pediatric endocrinologist Stuart Chalew says the screening device uses light instead of an invasive skin biopsy and lab testing to measure abnormal proteins in the skin associated with diabetes complications.

A patient puts their arm on it and in moments, the results are in. Monitoring blood glucose levels is currently one of the best way to determine risk for complication, but the machine could prove to be quicker and more effective.

"Two people with the same blood glucose may have very different levels of glycated proteins."

High levels can mean higher risk. Scientists are working on new therapies to lower those chances.

For kids like autumn - and even adults - the system could also be valuable. It's being tested as a way to quickly screen large numbers of people for diabetes without the need to draw blood.

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