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What Causes Type 1 Diabetes?

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What Causes Type 1 Diabetes?

By Nina Nazor

An environmental trigger is suspected to cause an immune attack against beta cells

Type 1 diabetes, previously known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) or juvenile diabetes, may account for 5% to 10% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.

Although the exact cause of type 1 diabetes is not known, it is believed to follow the exposure to an "environmental trigger," like a virus or an allergen, which stimulates the immune system of the baby, kid or young adult to attack the beta cells located in the Langerhans Islets of the pancreas. These beta cells are the insulin producers, and when they are attacked they stop producing insulin, causing diabetes to develop.

It seems then that type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition. Without insulin in our bodies, glucose builds up in the blood and can cause ketoacidosis, coma and death in the person if it is not treated immediately. Type 1 diabetes symptoms include fatigue, frequent urination, thirst, weight loss, sweet smelling breath and difficulty breathing.

Also, there is some evidence of a genetic predisposition to Type 1 diabetes. People with a close relative with Type 1 diabetes have a higher risk to develop it.

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