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The Big Questions

In Australia, about two new cases of Type 1 Diabetes are diagnosed every day and the number of children being diagnosed with the disease continues to increase both in Australia and around the world.

We are currently researching: 

  • Why are more children being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes?
  • What causes Type 1 Diabetes?
  • Can we prevent Type 1 Diabetes?

Our research group is looking for patterns and trends in newly diagnosed diabetic patients in Western Australia to try and understand the characteristics of children diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and identify the risk factors that may have triggered their disease. Data from these studies also contributes valuable information to understanding the causes of childhood diabetes in Australia, adding to the prospects of finding a prevention or cure to this serious disease in the future.


Above: Trends in the incidence of Type 1 Diabetes from 1984-2010 in Western Australia. Taken from: HAYNES et al., DIABETES CARE, VOLUME 35, NOVEMBER 2012

Hypoglycaemia

Hypoglycemia, meaning low blood sugar levels, is an acute complication of diabetes. In severe cases, when left untreated, it can result in patients experiencing convulsions or a coma, making it a major cause of anxiety and fear for parents whose children have diabetes.

Over the past decade, the types of insulin and ways to treat diabetes and monitor blood sugar levels has improved, and there are indications the overall number of patients experiencing severe hypoglycaemic events has decreased.

Researchers are investigating the demographic, lifestyle and diabetes management factors associated with severe hypoglycaemia. We are aiming to provide clinicians and diabetes educators with better knowledge about which patients are at higher risk of severe hypoglycaemia and how to best minimise this risk.

diabetes complications

Another broad area of our epidemiological research is investigating the patterns and risk factors of long-term complications of diabetes such as eye and kidney disease, mental health issues, indicators of psychosocial wellbeing and school outcomes.

Biobanks and data repositories

Our biobanks, which store blood, serum and DNA, are an important resource for medical science and research, including genetic research. While individual samples are never examined in detail, access to a large number of samples enables us to observe common features which can help us to prevent and treat diabetes and associated co-morbidities.

Data repositories store demographic and clinical information which allow us to observe trends over time or track different clinical factors. Again, while individual details are not examined, having access to information from many people allows us to observe common features which may help improve treatment.

Some of the discoveries we have made using our biobanks and data repositories include:

  • Type 1 Diabetes can be grouped into six different disease sub-types which appear to be associated with particular co-morbidities and genders. This information could help determine which individuals might be vulnerable to a particular co-morbidity, such as hypertension, and target their treatment accordingly.
  • Diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes appears to move in a five-year cycle so that rates of diagnosis peak every five years. Scientists are still researching why this cycle occurs.

For general inquiries including collaborations, please contact senior program manager Tanyana Jackiewicz:

Phone: (08) 6456 4616
Email: tanyana.jackiewicz@health.wa.gov.au

Postal address

Children's Diabetes Centre
Telethon Kids Institute
PO Box 855
West Perth Western Australia 6872
Australia