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I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 23. I have heard of a few others who were diagnosed in their early to late-twenties. Since Type 1 is commonly known as juvenile diabetes, many people are confused when I tell them I was diagnosed at 23. Is the medical community presently finding diagnosis in this age group more common?


Several years ago the term "juvenile diabetes" was abandoned and an attempt was made to classify diabetes according to "type" of treatment rather than age of onset (Type 1 or insulin dependent diabetes and Type 2 or non-insulin dependent diabetes.) This reclassification was made because Type 1 or insulin dependent diabetes (IDDM) can be diagnosed in adults as well as children. Most children develop Type 1 diabetes, but some do develop Type 2.

Very recently, a new classification of diabetes was made. The new classification attempts to classify diabetes according to the cause of the high blood sugar and not according to its treatment. The term Type 1 diabetes refers to diabetes caused by beta cell destruction. Most cases but not all cases of Type 1 diabetes are caused by an autoimmune destruction of the beta cells in the pancreas.

In recent years there have been reports of increasing incidence of Type 1 diabetes (previously referred to as IDDM) especially in young children. It is harder to know whether the incidence is increasing in adults as many adults develop Type 1 diabetes slowly and may be misclassified initially as Type 2 diabetes (high blood sugar caused by insulin resistance, formerly referred to as NIDDM or non-insulin diabetes.) Also, it seems that fewer adults with Type 1 diabetes have the classical autoimmune pattern making it harder to diagnose Type 1 diabetes in adults with certainty.

At the present time there is a collaborative study going on in many countries in Europe to ascertain the true incidence of Type 1 diabetes in young adults.


Original posting 26 Jul 97


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