Diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2

What is diabetes mellitus?

Diabetes is a condition in which sufficient amounts of insulin are either not produced, or the body is unable to use the insulin that is produced. Diabetes can be defined as a metabolic disorder because the disease affects the way the body uses food to make glucose, the main source of fuel for the body. 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:

  • Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks the cells that produce insulin, resulting in either no insulin or a low amount of insulin. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily in order to live.
  • Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a result of the body's inability to make enough, or to properly use, insulin. Type 2 diabetes may be controlled with diet, exercise, and weight loss, but it may also require oral or injected  medication and/or insulin injections.
  • Gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a condition in which the glucose level is elevated and other diabetic symptoms appear during pregnancy when the woman has not previously been diagnosed with diabetes. In many cases of gestational diabetes, all diabetic symptoms disappear following delivery.
Prevention & Risk Assessment

Prevention & Risk Assessment

What is prediabetes?

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

How does diabetes affect blood glucose?

For glucose to be able to move into the cells of the body, the hormone insulin must be present. Insulin is produced in the pancreas, and, normally, is readily available to move glucose into the cells. However, in people who have diabetes, either the pancreas produces too little or no insulin, or certain cells in the body do not respond to the insulin that is produced. This causes a build up of glucose in the blood, which passes into the urine where it is eventually eliminated, leaving the body without its main source of fuel.

What is maturity-onset diabetes in the young (MODY)?

Although often misdiagnosed initially as the more common type 1 or type 2 diabetes, maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) is a group of diseases characterized by inherited early-onset diabetes (usually in adolescence or early adulthood) from a single gene mutation.

Severity of the diabetes symptoms associated with MODY vary depending on the type of MODY diagnosed. MODY 2 appears to be the mildest form of the disease, often only causing mild hyperglycemia and impaired glucose tolerance. MODY 1 and 3 may require treatment with insulin, much like type 1 diabetes. MODY accounts for about 1 to 5 percent of all cases of diabetes in adults in the U.S. Family members of people with MODY are at greatly increased risk for the condition. MODY should be considered when three successive generations in a family have been diagnosed with mild diabetes (not requiring insulin) before age 25 and appear neither obese nor significantly insulin-resistant.

Children's Team

Children's Team

Providers

Our Stories

Our Stories

Patient story

Trevor's Story

"A simple trip to the pediatrician turned into an ambulance ride to the hospital. It was all so scary. We had questions, just like we are sure you do now."

Patient story

Leo's Story

"I guess diabetes, like any life threatening disease has made us realize that life is fragile, precious and that "normal" has different meanings for different people."

Antoinette's Story

"The most “abnormal” thing about my daughter is this weird piece of equipment that is constantly attached to her ear. It's called a cell phone and is just as much a part of her as the pink device that acts like her pancreas and keeps her alive."

Patient story

Hannah's Story

"As a parent, be a safety net, but let them go and do. That was the hardest part for us."

Patient story

Connor's Story

"Give your precious child lots of hugs and kisses and tell him/her they will be fine, you all will be, you have each other and you will get through it together!" 

Patient story

Dana's Story

"Look for support groups. There is a psychological side to having a disease like this. You need to talk to people. You will learn from them and eventually you will help others." 

Raven's Story

"I would never have thought that after taking my daughter to her pediatrician, I would hear, 'You need to take your child to Children's National right away.'"

Patient story

Samantha's Story

"I could not have come this far without extremely good care from Children's National. And to the parents of children newly diagnosed with diabetes: dreams can come true just as always; don't let this disease stand in your/their way ever."

Departments

Departments

Weight-Loss Surgery (Bariatric Surgery) Program

Learn about bariatric (weight-loss) surgery for children and teens at our teen-centered Bariatric Surgery Program.

Endocrinology and Diabetes

The Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes at Children's National Health System is the largest endocrinology program in the mid-Atlantic region. When you entrust your child's care our specialists, you can be assured that leading experts in the field are helping your child.

Diabetes Program (Childhood and Adolescent)

Our Childhood and Adolescent Diabetes Program is the largest pediatric diabetes program in the Mid-Atlantic region, providing care for children and young adults from Washington, DC, Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia.

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Merrill's Story

Patient story

"I think his medical experiences as a small child helped develop his attitude and approaches for coping. He still thinks of Children's as a friendly, good place, which is a real tribute to the excellent care and treatment he received."

Read More of Merrill's Story