Who Should Get Screened
People who have a family member with type 1 diabetes should be screened for type 1. Also, people who have a family history of any of a variety of autoimmune diseases may consider being screened for type 1 diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, screening for pre-diabetes or type 2 is recommended for:
- People who are living with overweight or obesity (BMI ≥25 kg/m2 or ≥23 kg/m2 in Asian American individuals) and have one or more of the following risk factors:
- First-degree relative with diabetes
- High-risk race/ethnicity (e.g., African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander)
- History of cardiovascular disease
- Hypertension (≥130/80 mmHg or on therapy for hypertension)
- HDL cholesterol level <35 mg/dL (0.90 mmol/L) and/or a triglyceride level >250 mg/dL (2.82 mmol/L)
- Individuals with polycystic ovary syndrome
- Physical inactivity
- Other clinical conditions associated with insulin resistance (e.g., severe obesity, acanthosis nigricans)
- People with prediabetes (A1C ≥5.7% [39 mmol/mol], Impaired Glucose Tolerance, or Impaired Fasting Glucose) should be tested yearly.
- People who were diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes should have lifelong testing at least every 3 years.
- For all other people, testing should begin at the age of 35 years.
- If results are normal, testing should be repeated at a minimum of 3-year intervals, with consideration of more frequent testing depending on initial results and risk status.
- People with HIV.
What it is, what it isn’t:
- What it is: A type 1 diabetes screening test is a blood sample that looks for certain antibodies associated with type 1 diabetes. If the blood sample indicates that a person is producing certain antibodies, the next step is another blood sample to check if glucose is normal or elevated. Having an antibody may indicate that there is a risk of developing type 1 diabetes, but it is not a guarantee that a person will develop it. Discuss the test results with your medical team. If the test is negative, the blood sample can be repeated every year.
- What it isn't: Taking a test to check for antibodies in the body is not a test to look at a person's genes. It does not tell you if there is any genetic risk of developing type 1 diabetes. If a blood sample is negative for antibodies today, it does not promise that in the future, they will never appear.
- What it is: A type 2 diabetes screening test is a blood sample that checks whether glucose is in range or elevated.
- What it isn't: Getting a type 2 diabetes screening test that finds your blood glucose is in range today doesn't promise that your blood glucose will never rise in the future.
How can I get tested?
To get screened for type 1 diabetes, visit https://www.trialnet.org/participate or https://www.jdrf.org/t1d-resources/t1detect.
To get screened for type 2 diabetes, you need to talk to your doctor and discuss your risks. In the meantime, you can review a risk test in the form of a free quiz: https://diabetes.org/diabetes/risk-test
Why should I consider getting tested?
As they say, knowledge is power! If the result indicates that you are at risk for any type of diabetes, you have the opportunity to learn and discuss the next steps to focus on what is necessary to benefit your health. For risk of any type of diabetes, you can learn more about healthy steps to protect your health and try to prevent a diabetes diagnosis. In certain cases, there are medications you can take to help. Find diabetes care and self-management classes or get visits with a diabetes care and education specialist if you are newly diagnosed with diabetes: https://www.diabeteseducator.org/living-with-diabetes.
Tavia Vital BSN, BA, RN, CDCES is a Registered Nurse, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, and Certified Pump Trainer. Fluent in Spanish, she is an active listener, a passionate expert, and a true advocate for people with diabetes. She has lived with type 1 diabetes for over 40 years and has a teenage son with type 1.
Tavia works at Integrated Diabetes Services as Director of Intensive Diabetes Management and Directora de Servicios en Español. Tavia provides one-on-one guidance for clients looking for individualized diabetes self-management education and support to tackle Real Life with Diabetes. Connect with Tavia at Integrated Diabetes Services and follow Integrated Diabetes on Facebook or Instagram.