About ENDIA

The Environmental Determinants of Islet Autoimmunity (ENDIA) Study aims to find the cause(s) of type 1 diabetes to inform ways to prevent it.

In Australia, type 1 diabetes in children is twice as common as it was 20 years ago; this is because of our changing environment. Children are exposed to all sorts of environmental factors very early in life, even before they are born. Some of these factors may protect against or impact upon the development of type 1 diabetes.

The ENDIA Study is observational. There are no study medications or interventions. Participation will not impact on usual healthcare.

We aim to recruit 1400 babies (from the pregnancy aged up to 6 months) who have an immediate relative with type 1 diabetes (i.e. baby’s mum, dad, brother or sister).

So, if you or a family member is living with type 1 diabetes, and about to welcome a new baby to the family, then we encourage you to find out more about participating in this important research.

What Is Islet Autoimmunity?

Type 1 diabetes results from an autoimmune response; i.e. the body’s immune system destroys its own insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.

Before type 1 diabetes presents with symptoms, this autoimmune response can be detected by measuring antibodies in the blood stream. These antibodies are known as islet autoantibodies and the condition is known as islet autoimmunity.

Little is known about what triggers a child to develop islet autoimmunity. We believe that several factors may be important:

  • bacterial communities that live in or on our bodies,
  • viral infection during pregnancy and early childhood,
  • inflammation,
  • genes,
  • environmental pollutants e.g. chemicals,
  • nutrition,
  • body composition.

Identifying those factors that initiate the development of islet autoimmunity in early life could lead to a means of preventing type 1 diabetes before the autoimmune process begins.

What will the ENDIA investigators be looking at?

The ENDIA team will be investigating a number of environmental factors that we believe may contribute to the development of islet autoimmunity and type 1 diabetes in children. These factors include:

  • The genes of the participating child and their family member with type 1 diabetes
  • The community of the bacteria that naturally lives in a mother’s body during pregnancy and the child’s body during early life
  • The amount of weight gain during pregnancy and early life
  • The method of delivery (natural birth versus caesarean section)
  • The mother’s nutrition during pregnancy and breast feeding
  • The duration of breast feeding and the child’s nutrition during early life
  • The child’s immune system and when the child received vaccines
  • Exposure to viruses during pregnancy and early life

Referring to ‘Diabetes’ is unhelpful; there are different types

Know your type! The ENDIA Study is looking into the causes of type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition. This means that the body’s own immune system starts to attack the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. Although type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, it is more commonly diagnosed around puberty. Currently type 1 diabetes can not be prevented or cured. The ENDIA Study is working to find the causes of type 1 diabetes, so the next step is to prevent type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition where the body becomes less effective at using or producing insulin. It is associated with lifestyle factors and is the most common type of diabetes in Australia. Type 2 diabetes more commonly develops later in life but can be diagnosed in the young. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with exercise, healthy eating and healthy weight.

This infographic may help explain the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes as well as gestational diabetes (diabetes which develops during pregnancy).

To see the image more clearly, right click your mouse on it and select “open image in new tab”.

9 week old Connor from Broken Hill
Smith Family from Queensland: William and his little brother, Edward, bring Mum and Dad to their ENDIA visit.
Karlie with son, Harrison, at one of their ENDIA visits.

The ENDIA Team

This research project is a multi-centre study involving the collaboration of clinicians and researchers from hospitals and universities across Australia.

 

What Is Involved?

ENDIA is a study following babies from the pregnancy into early childhood to find out what causes type 1 diabetes. There are no interventions; participation is low risk.

Regional Participation Program

The Regional Program was introduced to give people living in more rural and remote areas the opportunity to contribute to this important research from the comfort of their own home.

Adelaide: (08) 8161 7349

Geelong: 0478 336 610

Newcastle: 0408 162 559

Sydney: 0422 004 109

All other areas: (08) 8161 8655

Brisbane: (07) 3069 7510

Melbourne: (03) 9342 8641

Monash Health: 0435 064 153

Perth: (08) 6456 4602