To assess parent anxiety in response to genetic and islet autoantibody (IA) testing in children at increased genetic risk for type 1 diabetes followed from birth in The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) study.
Parent anxiety about TEDDY children’s risk was assessed with the State Anxiety Inventory (SAI). Parents completed the SAI when the child was 3, 6, and 15 months old and annually thereafter. Children were tested for IA every 3 months for 4 years and every 6 months thereafter. Parent SAI scores of 6,799 children followed with IA testing for at least 1 and up to 6 years were examined.
At study inception, parents showed high levels of anxiety in response to their child’s increased genetic type 1 diabetes risk; mothers were more anxious than fathers, and parents with diabetes in the family were more anxious than parents with no family history. In response to repeated IA-negative (IA–) test results, parent anxiety declined to normal levels. Anxiety increased in parents faced with an IA-positive (IA+) test result. Parents faced with two or more types of IA+ test results showed particularly high levels of anxiety (all P < 0.001).
Infant genetic screening for type 1 diabetes raises parent anxiety when the child is at increased risk, but anxiety dissipates over time in cases of repeated IA– results. IA+ results heighten parent anxiety, and parents faced with two or more types of IA+ results may experience considerable anxiety for longer periods.