These families are as desperate as researchers to secure further funding for research into type one diabetes.
They want to see the end of the relentless autoimmune condition.
The group of Ballarat mums and bubs will be walking Lake Wendouree on Sunday as part of a campaign to secure funding for JDRF, the leading global organisation funding type one diabetes research.
More than 50 people have signed up to participate in the JDRF One Walk in Ballarat and have already raised more than $5000 for the cause.
Walk organiser and diabetes researcher Belinda Moore said more than 50 families from the Ballarat and Geelong regions were participating in a world-first type one diabetes study.
The ENDIA study is working to discover what causes type one diabetes to find ways to prevent it.
I just want to see the end of type one.Belinda Moore, diabetes researcher
The observational study follows babies with a type one diabetic parent from pregnancy into early childhood. More than 1200 babies are involved in the study across Australia.
Research has been running for five years, but further funding is needed to continue for another five years.
Ms Moore said continuation of the study was important to determine what triggers type one diabetes as children grow older.
“The families rely on the research as well from a personal perspective,” she said.
“For a mother or father with type one diabetes, their biggest fear is their children are going to develop it too. They feel a lot of guilt that they might be passing on their condition. We don’t know if it is genetic – it is for some and it isn’t for others – so that is what the research is also able to highlight and give those parents a bit of reassurance.”
Type one diabetes in children is twice as common as it was 20 years ago in Australia.
Around 120,000 Australians have type one diabetes, a condition that requires regular blood sugar monitoring and insulin injections.
Ballarat mother Rhiannon Pitts was 25-years-old when she was diagnosed with type one diabetes. She has since had two children and decided to participate in the ENDIA study to help find a cure.
She described the condition as ‘relentless’, particularly during pregnancy.
“You have to check your blood sugars a lot more through pregnancy. I was giving myself some days six to eight needles depending on how much I ate,” she said.
“I guess it gets pretty relentless after a while because when you are worrying about something else growing inside of you you have to be a lot more onto it. But you get through it.”
Although type one diabetes can develop at any age, it is more commonly diagnosed around puberty. Currently it can not be prevented or cured.
Learn more about diabetes on the diagram below.
Deborah Parkinson’s three children, the eldest now 21, have all participated in diabetes research. Her husband Gavin has type one diabetes.
“Participating in research is the only tangible thing we can really do to help my husband because he has to live with it every day,” she said.
“Type one is a condition really that you don’t get to have a rest from, ever. My husband has no spontaneity in his life because he has to control everything he eats and what time he eats.
“I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have a child with diabetes.”
A second trial called TrialNet is underway in Australia testing the drug hydroxychloroquine to determine whether it can prevent or delay disease progression.
Visit walk.jdrf.org.au/find-a-walk/vic/ballarat to register for the JDRF One Walk Ballarat.