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Melinda’s family has just doubled in size, as bouncing baby triplets have joined her, her husband and their two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Gemma. The three boys, Gennaro, Carmine and Renato, were born on 23 May 2018, and even before they made their grand entrance to the world, they’ve been helping us to find out what causes type 1 diabetes (T1D) through the Environmental Determinants of Islet Autoimmunity (ENDIA) study. Right now, the three babies are the very first set of triplets in more than 1,000 babies and toddlers enrolled in ENDIA across Australia.

The ENDIA study follows babies from in utero through to early childhood. It’s the only study in the world which follows babies from the pregnancy phase. Nationally, the study needs 1,400 babies to take part. We’re thrilled Melinda has been able to add her three tiny people to this number.

Melinda and family

Melinda spoke to JDRF at 31 weeks pregnant about all things babies and ENDIA:

The news we were having triplets was quite shocking and exciting, and a bit scary too. We’re both really excited, but I don’t think we’ll really understand what we’re in for until they’re here. We have twins on both sides of our families, but no triplets.

I found out about the ENDIA study as I was found to have gestational diabetes at 22 weeks pregnant. My diabetes educator told me about the study as my partner has type 1 diabetes (T1D), and that means we were eligible to get involved. Our situation is unique, as we have type 1 and type 2 diabetes on both sides of our families, so we both grew up knowing about T1D.

While we got involved in ENDIA to help prevent our kids − and others − from getting T1D, we also know that T1D is something you can live with.

If we can prevent our own kids from getting it, great, but we’re not scared of it, if it was to happen.

Being part of ENDIA is really do-able and not too arduous. Our experience has been really great. Because I’m currently in hospital on bed rest, my nurse Belinda comes to me, and she’s been really flexible.

When the babies are here, they’ll have blood, stool samples and mouth swabs taken. They’ll also have cord blood and placenta samples stored. There’s nothing too invasive, but as an ENDIA parent you can decide how much you want to do. If you choose not to take part in a particular thing you don’t have to. However, the more information we can provide through samples, the better it is for the study. I would say to any prospective ENDIA families − do what you can and what you’re comfortable doing.

One day we hope to tell the triplets that they helped to find a cure for T1D. They’ll grow up knowing about T1D and that we’ve done everything we can to try and make a difference.

Could you help Melinda’s family solve the mysteries of type 1 diabetes?
If you or a family member is living with type 1 diabetes, and about to welcome a new baby, then we encourage you to find out more about participating in ENDIA.

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