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Type 1 Diabetes

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Type 1 diabetes develops when the pancreas does not produce enough of the hormone insulin to control blood sugar (glucose) levels.  With a shortage of insulin, glucose can't move into the body cells to be used as energy. Instead, it builds up in the bloodstream to dangerous levels.


Once known as juvenile diabetes, type 1 diabetes develops when the immune system destroys the body's ability to produce insulin.
Type 1 Diabetes, formerly called juvenile diabetes because it  affects mostly children and young people, develops when the body's immune system attacks and destroys the
beta cells found in the pancreas. Beta cells are the body's only means of producing the hormone insulin, which regulates blood glucose, the fuel that lets cells produce energy.

To survive, people with type 1 diabetes must receive regular doses of Insulin delivered by either an injection or a pump.   Read more...
The Hunt for a Type 1 Diabetes   Cure

Hope for a cure is focused on encouraging the pancreas to regrow insulin-producing beta cells and finding a way to stop the body from killing off those cells.

There is no cure for type 1 diabetes. People who develop the disease — mostly children — are dependent on insulin injections for the rest of their lives. 


Can a Pancreas Transplant Cure Diabetes?

A successful pancreas transplant eliminates the need for taking insulin, measuring blood glucose levels, and watching your diet, but it may not be the answer for everyone.

Differences Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

In general, people with diabetes either have a total lack of insulin (type 1 diabetes) or they have too little insulin or cannot use insulin effectively Type 2 Diabetes
  • Type 1 diabetes (formerly called juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes), accounts for 5% to 10% of all people with diabetes.1 In type 1 diabetes, the body's immune system destroys the cells that release Insulin eventually eliminating insulin production from the body. Without insulin, cells cannot absorb sugar (glucose), which they need to produce energy.
  • Type 2 diabetes (formerly called adult-onset or non–insulin-dependent diabetes) can develop at any age, but most commonly becomes apparent during adulthood. But the incidence of type 2 diabetes in children is rising. Type 2 diabetes accounts for the vast majority of people with diabetes—90% to 95%. In contrast to type 1 diabetes, insulin resistance is the main characteristic of type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance refers to the body's inability to respond properly to insulin. Resistance develops because of many factors, including genetics, obesity, increasing age, and having high blood sugar for a long time.

How are these diseases different?

Differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes

Symptoms usually start in childhood or young adulthood. People often seek medical help because they are seriously ill from sudden symptoms of high blood sugar.

The person may not have symptoms before diagnosis. Usually the disease is discovered in adulthood, but an increasing number of children are being diagnosed with the disease.

Episodes of low blood sugar level (hypoglycemia) are common.

There are no episodes of low blood sugar level, unless the person is taking insulin or certain oral diabetes medicines.

It cannot be prevented.

It can be prevented or delayed with a healthy lifestyle, including maintaining a healthy weight, eating sensibly, and exercising regularly.

How are they alike?

Both types of diabetes greatly increase a person's risk for a range of serious complications. Although monitoring and management of the disease can prevent complications, diabetes remains the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure. It also continues to be a critical risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and foot or leg amputations.


  1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). National Diabetes Fact Sheet 2007. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available online: