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Sussex primary school takes part in innovative diabetes screening programme

ELSA study   Noah and Mr Sullivan

A Sussex primary school has become the first in the county to take part in a study which aims to find children at high risk of developing type 1 diabetes before they become unwell.

Blackboys Church of England Primary School, in collaboration with CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex (CRN KSS), recently held their first ELSA study clinic, where the participating children were given a finger stick blood test to see if they’re at risk of developing type 1 diabetes in the future.

Graham Sullivan, Headteacher at Blackboys School, said: “When the opportunity of taking part in the ELSA study came up, we jumped at the chance.

“We have a young man with type 1 diabetes at Blackboys School and he has always impressed everyone with his positive attitude and perseverance. Taking part in a trial seemed a perfect way to express our appreciation and we were thrilled that pupils and parents came on board with the project too.

“The communication with the CRN KSS research team was first rate and there were lots of support and encouragement on the day. Thank you for making it such a rewarding experience.”

Noah Dilley, a year six pupil who took part in the study, said: “It was really easy to take part in the study and I hardly felt the test happen. Laura made me laugh and I felt very relaxed. It didn't take very long, and I was pleased that I could take part in the study that might help other people in the future.”

The ELSA study - Early Surveillance for Auto-immune Diabetes - screens children between the ages of three and 13 to find those at risk of developing insulin-dependent type 1 diabetes and offers education and support to at-risk children and their families. The voluntary screening programme is the largest antibody screening programme for type 1 diabetes in the UK.

Schools in Kent, Surrey and Sussex who would like to participate in this study can email for more information. Parents can also sign up their child individually online by visiting the ELSA study website.