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The Children's Diabetes Centre, based at the Telethon Kids Institute, is an integrated clinical and research centre that aims to improve the lives of children, adolescents and young adults living with diabetes. The Centre conducts research into Type 1 Diabetes and childhood onset Type 2 Diabetes. In WA, about 150 children are diagnosed with diabetes every year, and the number is increasing.

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic autoimmune disease that results from the immune system attacking the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Unlike Type 2 Diabetes which is potentially preventable, Type 1 is a non-preventable disease - currently, its exact cause is not known and there is no cure.

People with Type 1 Diabetes require insulin therapy for life either through injections or an insulin pump and they must regularly test their blood glucose levels by pricking their fingers, or using glucose sensing devices. The aim is to keep blood glucose levels as close to the normal range as possible and avoid episodes of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar), which both can increase the risk of long-term complications.

Currently, Type 1 Diabetes cannot be prevented but it can be managed by administering insulin, monitoring glucose levels, having a healthy, balanced diet and getting regular physical activity.

What are the symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes?

Excessive thirst, frequent urination, bed wetting, weight loss, tiredness, constant hunger and vomiting.

Close to a third of all children who are diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes present at hospital with high blood glucose levels with high ketones, a serious condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) which may require intensive care unit treatment. This can occur when there is a delay in the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes.

***If you suspect your child is displaying symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes, don’t delay – take them to your general practitioner or the emergency department of your nearest hospital as the condition can become very serious very quickly.***

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 Diabetes is a progressive condition in which the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and/or gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas. While people may have a strong genetic disposition towards Type 2 Diabetes, the risk is greatly increased if people display a number of modifiable lifestyle factors including high blood pressure, overweight or obesity, insufficient physical activity and poor diet.  

What is the Children's Diabetes Centre?

Living with this chronic and incurable disease has a major physical, emotional and financial impact on individuals and their families.  The Children's Diabetes Centre's unique research program incorporates state-of-the-art technologies, therapies and education that are all aimed at improving the quality of life for young people with Type 1 Diabetes and their families.

The Centre includes researchers at the Telethon Kids Institute’s Diabetes Research Team and the Diabetes Service at the Perth Children’s Hospital. As an integrated clinical and research centre, our mission is to provide a comprehensive approach to diabetes management that ensures patients receive the best evidence-based care available and have access to latest therapies. At the same time, patients and their families are provided with the opportunity to be involved in cutting-edge clinical trials and other research projects.

Our focus is on the care of young people with Type 1 Diabetes and their families that includes improving the clinical management and reducing the psychosocial impact of the disease. The Centre's primary objective is to generate significant new knowledge that will lead to tangible improvements in care and to translate these into clinical care. We do this by focused research studies that include clinical investigations, clinical trials, epidemiological studies and qualitative research projects and we introduce the results of these studies into the clinic and the community.

The Centre is currently involved in an international effort to develop revolutionary closed-loop ‘artificial pancreas’ technology. It first tested the system for overnight blood glucose control and is now leading an Australia-wide trial of these portable devices at home.

Other studies are looking at preventing hypoglycaemia after exercise, food and nutrition, understanding what causes Type 1 Diabetes, new medicines and analysing trends in patient care.

The Children's Diabetes Centre was established in 2015 by a Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council and JDRF Australia and is the only paediatric clinical diabetes CRE in Australia.

If you have a story to share, please contact Children's Diabetes Centre communications officer Amanda Lewis via amanda.lewis@telethonkids.org.au.

video: What we do

Diabetes research making a difference

Video: What causes Type 1 Diabetes?

Meet Ruth and her kids