Diabetes Researchers Implement Early Intervention

Reporter: Shannon Samson

New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

Diabetes is a costly disease, taking its toll on patients, and their medical dollars.

Diabetes costs Americans $132 billion a year, up 35 percent in the past five years.

Researchers hope they can save money and lives, by screening relatives of diabetics who have the disease, before it starts.

After 40 years of living with diabetes, Genevive Dumas says, she's still never quite gotten used to the needles.

Between giving herself insulin shots, and pricking her finger to check her blood sugar, Genevive has been poked and jabbed at least 25,000 times, over the last 40 years.

It's something she hopes her children never have to go through.

Genevieve says, "My daughter was here yesterday. She had her's checked, not two days ago. She says she doesn't have diabetes."

Researchers at the Ohio State University Medical Center are focusing on prevention, with a twist.

They're trying to get to the relatives of diabetics, before signs of the disease show up in them.

Kwame Osei, MD says, "This epidemic is not stopping. And the best thing to do is, to find a way to prevent the disease. And knowing who is at risk, would be the way to do it."

A simple blood test can tell doctors if patients have the early signs of diabetes, a condition known as impaired glucose tolerance.

That's when the body begins having a hard time controlling sugar in the blood.

As soon as it's discovered, doctors begin treatment immediately.

But Dr. Dara Schuster says, even this early stage of intervention, isn't early enough.

Dr. Schuster says, "We need to start sooner. We can identify those people early, in childhood, in early adolescence, and that's really the time to intervene."

And doctors hope to intervene by, not only teaching healthy habits to the children of diabetics, but by using medication on them as well, all in an effort to try and break the upward trend of this dangerous disease.

Risk factors for diabetes include obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.