Diabetes Center for Children

About Diabetes

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin or is unable to use the insulin produced. Insulin is a hormone that converts sugars into nutrients and feeds those nutrients to our cells. Without insulin, sugar builds up in the bloodstream, causing hyperglycemia or high blood sugar. Without treatment, this excess sugar in the blood can cause severe damage to the body and can be fatal.

Diabetes may be the result of conditions such as genetic syndromes, chemicals, medications, malnutrition, infections, viruses or other illnesses. The three main types of diabetes include:

What is pre-diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is commonly preceded by pre-diabetes. In pre-diabetes, blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be defined as diabetes. However, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, many people with pre-diabetes develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years of having pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. With modest weight loss and moderate physical activity, people with pre-diabetes can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.

What is monogenic diabetes?

Although often misdiagnosed as type 1 or type 2 diabetes, monogenic diabetes is a group of diseases which includes neonatal diabetes and maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY). It is characterized by inherited diabetes coupled with B-cell dysfunction (a cell that originates in the bone marrow and plays a major role in the body's immune response). This condition is often seen in families and is treated in the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes by a team of specialized monogenic diabetes experts.

Related information

Reviewed by: Melissa Rearson, MSN, CRNP
Date: Dec. 2013

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