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The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation raising awareness among Hoosiers

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Approximately 37 million Americans are affected by diabetes – a disease that occurs when blood glucose levels are too high – according to the National Institutes of Health. Diabetes. In 2021, the American Diabetes Association reported that 12.3% of Indiana’s adult population has been diagnosed with diabetes according to the American Diabetes Association. The association also reported that around 146,000 Indiana residents are undiagnosed, which greatly increases their health risks.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDFR) is the world’s largest nonprofit funder of type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. The organization’s “focus is on finding a cure; until we do, the advancements we’re making every day improve the lives of those living with the disease until that day comes.”

With 30 chapters, the organization focuses on research and advocacy. Dr. Cassandra Bazile is one of the scientists within JDRF’s research department and has been with the company for approximately two years.

“My role at JDRF is I’m a scientist, and I focus on part of our strategy, which is disease modifying therapies. What that means is that I work on finding therapies to delay, halt or reverse type one diabetes,” said Bazile.

The first step to addressing the disease is screening. Bazile said that there is a false misconception that you can get type 1 diabetes from eating too much sugar.

“People who have type 1 diabetes can’t prevent having type 1 diabetes. We don’t fully understand the reason why people develop type 1 diabetes. What we do know is that you can be screened for T1D, that some people are more at risk of developing it and it’s important to get screened, even if you aren’t at risk or have any relatives who have T1D.” said Bazile.

Chelsea-Lyn Rudder, associate vice president of JDRF public relations, reinforced Bazile’s claim.

“One misconception that I think is so important to note, and it’s something that I really didn’t understand until I started working here about a year ago, is that most associate T1D with developing it at a young age as a child or adolescent, but you can actually develop it at any age,” said Rudder.

Bazile said that in the Black community, there is a higher percentage of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which develops as a result of the body not having enough insulin to allow blood sugar in the cells to be used as energy.

“The Black community is more likely to develop diabetic ketoacidosis. That’s not only bad because you have to go to the hospital, which can be really expensive, but it’s also bad because if you develop diabetic ketoacidosis, also called DKA, you have more of a risk at developing complications long term, such as retinopathy as well as heart problems.”

Bazile said that some common symptoms of T1D are excessive urination, fatigue and excessive thirst. These symptoms can be further explained by a physician, who can also tell you what screening in your area looks like.

“We want to prevent people from going into DKA, and the best way to do that is to get screened,” said Bazile.

To learn more about JDRF, visit www.jdrf.org.

Contact staff writer Braxton Babb at (317) 762-7854. Follow her on Twitter @BLIEVESHEWRITES.

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