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Juvenile Diabetes

Juvenile DiabetesJuvenile diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, modern term – type 1 diabetes mellitus) is a type of diabetes mellitus that is caused by the destruction of pancreas β-cells that produce insulin. The lack of insulin leads to constantly increased blood and urine glucose levels. In most cases, type 1 diabetes mellitus is caused by an autoimmune response towards β-cells, though there is a small percentage of idiopathic juvenile diabetes with no signs of autoimmune reactions.

There is a specific variety of insulin-dependent diabetes – brittle diabetes. Also referred to as unstable diabetes or labile diabetes, brittle diabetes is characterized by sudden and recurrent fluctuations in glucose levels that are caused by unpredictable hyperglycaemias, often accompanied by ketosis, or by severe hypoglycemia. Only 1-2% of diabetic patients experience brittle diabetes.

Classical symptoms of juvenile diabetes include:

  • Polyuria – frequent urination
  • Polydipsia – increased thirst
  • Polyphagia – increased hunger
  • Weight loss

Juvenile Diabetes Causes

Today, the research on type 1 diabetes mellitus causes continues, as many hypotheses still need to be proven. Juvenile diabetes is now considered to be caused by a combination of genetic susceptibility, diabetogenic factors, and driving antigen. The following causes, either primary or secondary, can be distinguished.

Genetic causes. Mutations in different genes can be the cause of type 1 diabetes mellitus, which means that juvenile diabetes is a polygenic disease. The risk of paternally inheriting juvenile diabetes is 10%, and maternally – 4%. If the mother was over 25 years old when giving birth to a child, the risk decreases to 1%. The risk of having juvenile diabetes in case a sibling has it is 10%.

Environmental causes. Studies have shown that expression of juvenile diabetes can be influenced by some environmental factors. Firstly, when one of twins has type 1 diabetes mellitus, the chances of the other having the same disease make only 30-50%, despite the fact that both of them have the same genome. Secondly, there was noticed the tendency of people who migrate to acquire incidence of the disease of their migration destination country.

Virus causes. One of the possible causes of juvenile diabetes is a viral disease that triggers autoimmune reaction, in the result of which β-cells of the pancreas are destroyed. These are namely the Coxsackie virus family and the Rubella virus.

Diet causes. There is a certain connection between certain diet habits and peculiarities and development of type 1 diabetes mellitus. Namely, consumption of wheat is considered to somehow be connected with the onset of juvenile diabetes. Next, cow’s milk proteins sometimes cause an autoimmune reaction leading to juvenile diabetes. Additionally, one of the studies showed that a short period of breast-feeding may increase the risk of type 1 diabetes mellitus development. One more interesting observation concerns the influence of daily vitamin D doses of 2000 IU during the first year of life on the reduction in the risk of juvenile diabetes development for 80%.

Medications and chemicals. It has long been known that Vacor destroys β-cells in pancreas leading to type 1 diabetes mellitus. This cause remains topical, as Vacor is still used in some countries. Such medication as streptozotocin, which is used for pancreatic cancer chemotherapy, also triggers the destruction of β-cells causing serious lack of insulin.

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