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Type 1 diabetes occurs when the beta cells of the pancreas are damaged and stop producing the hormone insulin. While the exact cause of this cell damage is not completely understood, it is thought to be a combination of environmental and autoimmune factors. Despite the name juvenile diabetes, type 1 diabetes can be diagnosed at any stage of life, although diagnosis in childhood through young adulthood is most common.
Children who develop type 1 diabetes must eventually take regular insulin injections to keep blood glucose levels under control and do the job of the pancreas. Regular home testing of blood sugar levels is also important to make sure that the treatment is working effectively and to avoid a diabetic emergency such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
The hallmark characteristic of type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance. The pancreas typically produces enough insulin (often too much insulin); however, cells are resistant to the insulin and it may not work as effectively. Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes, and most individuals with the disease are adults. However, children and adolescents can develop type 2 diabetes too,
An estimated 18.2 million Americans live with diabetes, and over 5 million of those remain undiagnosed. Up to 95 percent of diabetes patients in the United States have type 2 diabetes; the vast majority of Americans with diabetes are over 20 years of age. Those under 20 represent only 206,000 of the total cases of diabetes in the United States.
While type 2 diabetes is a growing problem among American youth due to climbing obesity rates and more sedentary lifestyles, type 1 diabetes is more prevalent in children and adolescents. An estimated one in 400 to 500 children have type 1 diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association reports that in 2002, diabetes cost Americans an estimated $132 billion in direct medical costs and indirect expenses such as lost productivity and disability payments.
Author Info: Paula Ford-Martin, Altha Roberts Edgren, Teresa G. Odle, Thomson Gale, Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Children's Health, 2006
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