Families living in regional Australia will now be able to participate in the nation's largest study into the causes of type 1 diabetes in early life.
The study, led by the University of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute and the Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide, is aimed at solving the mystery as to why the number of type 1 diabetes cases has doubled over the past 20 years.
Pregnant women in regional and rural areas across Australia, whose child has a first-degree relative (i.e. mother, father or a sibling) with type 1 diabetes, are now being sought for the study. Babies less than six months old are also eligible.
The ENDIA (Environmental Determinants of Islet Autoimmunity) study is expanding into Australia's regional areas for the first time, giving more families the opportunity to make a difference to this groundbreaking work.
"Our Regional Participant Program will enable all eligible families,“ not just those in the major cities“, to contribute to exciting new research that aims to identify the environmental factors that influence the development of type 1 diabetes," says ENDIA's Principal Investigator, Professor Jenny Couper from the University of Adelaide and Women's and Children's Hospital.
"In Australia, type 1 diabetes in children is twice as common as it was 20 years ago. We believe the environment a child is exposed to in early life holds the key to understanding type 1 diabetes."
Before the launch of its regional program, almost a third of the country's population were unable to access the ENDIA study, because of their inability to access participating hospitals due to their location.
"Eligible families now have the option to participate in the study from home, or with the help of their local health care professional," Professor Couper says.
"Involving families from country areas right across Australia is critically important to our findings because we know there are many differences between regional and urban environments.
"The data and samples provided by rural and regional participants will contribute invaluable information, helping us to find out what causes type 1 diabetes."
ENDIA's Regional Participant Program will also be available to current participants who are living in regional areas, enabling them to collect and ship their own samples should they be unable to attend a study visit.
The ENDIA study was funded by the Australian Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Network, led by JDRF Australia, and supported by the Australian Government through a Special Research Initiative for Type 1 diabetes.
Families interested in the study who live outside of metropolitan Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Geelong or Perth should call (08) 8161 8655. To find out more, visit the website: www.endia.org.au
First family to join the ENDIA study Regional Participation Program
Kelly and Ryan Porter and their son Heath, from Berri, South Australia, are the first family to take part in the ENDIA study Regional Participation Program.
Ryan was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just last year, at 26 years of age.
"Participating in the ENDIA study through the Regional Participation Program has been straightforward and easy," says Kelly.
"With our second child on the way, we are glad to help further knowledge of type 1 diabetes, not just for people diagnosed but also their families. Knowledge is power and the more we have the closer we might be to prevention."
Professor Jennifer Couper, McGregor Reid Professor, Head of Paediatrics, Robinson Research Institute, The University of Adelaide
and Head, Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Women's and Children's Hospital
Alexandra Hendry, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Environmental Determinants of Islet Autoimmunity (ENDIA) Study, The University of Adelaide
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