Once, there were two types of diabetes; children mainly got one type and adults mostly got the other.
Today, we know that younger people can get type 2 and that type 1 often appears in adulthood.
During pregnancy, women can get gestational diabetes, which resembles type 2 and usually disappears after childbirth. And scientists have identified several other diabetes subtypes beyond types 1 and 2. The most common of these is called latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), and it accounts for roughly 10 percent of people with diabetes, making it probably more widespread than type 1.
So why haven’t more people heard of it?
LADA can be classified as a more slowly progressing variation of type 1 diabetes, yet it is often misdiagnosed as type 2. As of now, there is still a lot of uncertainty over how exactly to define LADA, how it develops, and how important it is for patients to know if they have it.
There was some hope that genetics would help to draw the diabetes boundaries. But a 2008 study in Diabetes found that, genetically, LADA has features of both type 1 and type 2. So, in autoantibodies and genetics, LADA appears to fall somewhere between types 1 and 2 on the diabetes spectrum, though perhaps closer to type 1.
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