Tests on 113 children – aged between seven and eighteen years of age – at Oxford Children’s hospital have revealed that it could be possible to identify the chemical ketone by way of a simple breath test. Ketones are produced when a lack of insulin means that the body cannot convert sugar into energy, converting fat instead. Ketones are produced as this fat is broken down. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce insulin, resulting in unregulated blood sugar levels.
Type 1 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes found in childhood and requires close monitoring of blood glucose levels and daily insulin injections. Early diagnosis of diabetes could result in fewer hospital admissions with diabetic ketoacidosis, which can be life threatening. Current testing for diabetes involves a blood test, but only when a child first presents with symptoms such as lethargy, weight loss and thirst. GP’s could be more likely to implement a breath test to identify potential cases of diabetes long before symptoms have been diagnosed, and children may be more willing to participate.
Indeed, scientists hope that their discovery, intended to be designed similarly to a hand held breathalyser, would be used in regular childhood check-ups; promoting earlier diagnosis and treatment of diabetes ensures greater future control of this autoimmune disease.
Diabetology, or the study and treatment of diabetes mellitus, is a specialised field within endocrinology. At The Lister Hospital our Consultant Endocrinologists investigate and treat conditions including diabetes; treating patients according to their individual needs and monitoring their progress with the aim of preventing long term complications. To find out more about The Lister Hospital endocrinology services please click on the link below: