AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Researchers at the Barbara Davis Center on the Anschutz Medical Campus are administering a test that can determine if a child is at higher risk for developing Type 1 diabetes or celiac disease. The Autoimmunity Screening for Kids, or ASK Study requires a simple blood draw.

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“In the blood sample, we’re looking for the auto-antibodies that would suggest that the child is at higher risk for Type 1 diabetes or celiac disease,” said Cristy Geno Rasmussen, senior research instructor at the Barbara Davis Center.


There are four auto-antibodies for diabetes and one for celiac disease. If a child has two or more of the four, their chances of developing Type 1 increase significantly, same with celiac disease. The ASK study is trying to make a case for universal screening, so that children as young as 2 would know if they’re at greater risk.

The Barbara Davis Center (credit CBS)

“To give families the tools and the information to help keep their child as healthy as possible,” said Brigette Frohnert, assistant professor of pediatric endocrinology at the Barbara Davis Center and Children’s Hospital.

Once identified as being of greater risk, children and their families can access the full resources of the Barbara Davis Center.

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“We give them supplies that they need depending on how frequently they need to test,” said Flor Sepulveda, screening team lead coordinator.

The families get glucose meters, so they can track their child’s blood sugar levels, and on-going screenings to watch the child’s progress.

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“Making sure they’re not starting to show symptoms. And if they are, they are able to identify them really quickly,” Sepulveda explained.

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Greyson Smith is among the children who is getting ongoing care through the ASK study. He tested positive for four out of four of the auto-antibodies.

“I was kind of sad in a way, but then my brother researched it a lot and kind of helped with that,” Greyson Smith told CBS4.

The Smiths are taking a family approach to the test results. Greyson’s father, Dave, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 40. He sees himself as a role model for his son.

“He needs to understand that this is not a limiting thing for him,” Dave Smith said.

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His mother, Alison, was forward thinking when she had both her sons tested. She believes that knowledge is power.

“As of now he’s not Type 1, but maybe we can do something to possibly prevent it, since we are aware,” Alison Smith said.

The ASK study does puts researchers one step closer to figuring out how to prevent the development of Type 1 diabetes. But until that time, the test results mean some very real changes for Greyson.

“I can’t really eat ice cream much any more, and things like that,” Greyson said.


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