Type 1 diabetes

The most common metabolic disease in children and adolescents

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What is type 1 diabetes?

Patients with type 1 diabetes are affected by a malfunction of the immune system. The immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. As a result, patients have to inject insulin several times a day to control their blood sugar levels. Long-term damage to health is often unavoidable despite the best blood sugar settings. Currently, there is no cure for type 1 diabetes, and the disease cannot be prevented through a healthy diet or an active lifestyle.
About 1 in 250 to 300 children in Germany develop type 1 diabetes. In children with a high genetic risk, as many as 1 in 10 develop the disease. Type 1 diabetes can affect anyone.


10 facts about type 1 diabetes

  1. Type 1 diabetes is the most common metabolic disease in childhood and adolescence.
  2. A cure is yet to be found.
  3. We cannot prevent the outbreak of the disease, so far.
  4. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease and does not result from an unhealthy lifestyle.
  5. Type 1 diabetes is nobody’s fault. Neither the children nor the parents have done anything wrong.
  6. People with type 1 diabetes need insulin every day to survive.
  7. Type 1 diabetes is not a family illness. Diabetes can affect anyone. 
  8. Impaired metabolism damages various organ systems and limits life expectancy. 
  9. Type 1 is not type 2.
  10. Type 1 diabetes is not contagious.

But we research, we develop, and we fight to detect type 1 diabetes earlier and to prevent the outbreak of the disease in the future.

Our goal is a world without 1!

Here you can find information about our studies on early detection and prevention of type 1 diabetes.


What are the symptoms of type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes in its early stages usually goes unnoticed for a long time, since the affected child feels healthy and shows no symptoms. Only when the disease is already advanced, it manifests itself in the form of tiredness, lack of concentration, extreme thirst, frequent urination, and the smell of acetone in the breath. If left untreated, it can potentially lead to a life-threatening metabolic derailment (ketoacidosis). Our studies help to detect type 1 diabetes at an early stage and prevent dangerous consequences.


Is it possible to prevent type 1 diabetes with a healthy lifestyle?

So far, there is no confirmed data that we can prevent type 1 diabetes with a healthy lifestyle.


What are type 1 diabetes antibodies, and what does an early stage of type 1 diabetes mean?

Type 1 diabetes antibodies, also known as islet autoantibodies, are signs of inflammation of the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas; they can be found in the blood years before insulin deficiency and elevated blood sugar levels occur. By detecting islet autoantibodies, we can detect an early stage before symptoms occur. In this early stage, the affected persons feel completely healthy and do not show any abnormalities in blood sugar that could indicate disease. In the course of the disease, the early stage develops into a clinical disease with symptoms. The period of time during which this further development takes place varies greatly.


At what age does type 1 diabetes occur?

In principle, type 1 diabetes can occur at any time in life. About half of those affected develop the clinical stage of the disease as adults. Islet autoantibodies, the early stage of the disease, usually develop in early childhood. The clinical disease is currently most frequently observed between 10 and 14 years of age.

Information on early detection of type 1 diabetes


What treatment for type 1 diabetes is available?

As a treatment, people with diabetes must inject themselves with insulin several times a day. Although technological developments have led to significant improvements in diabetes care, we cannot cure the disease yet. Modern sensors and pumps make it easier to manage this chronic disease. Companies are working intensively on "closed-loop" systems, to allow diabetes management to run virtually by itself. Also, scientists are researching to develop new treatment approaches in the early stages of the disease, which try to prevent the clinical stage or at least delay its onset. Examples for this are our prevention studies POInT and Fr1da insulin intervention.


How is type 1 diabetes diagnosed?

Usually, we diagnose type 1 diabetes by detecting elevated blood sugar levels and the appearance of symptoms. However, symptoms may not always be present at diagnosis.
Whether something is wrong with sugar metabolism can be determined on the basis of the fasting blood sugar level. If it is between 100 and 125 mg/dl, it is elevated - values below 100 mg/dl are normal. There is also the oral glucose tolerance test (oGTT), which can be used to ensure a clear diagnosis of diabetes. For this purpose, glucose dissolved in water must be taken after fasting blood sampling. Two hours later blood is taken again. If this value is above 200 mg/dl, the person has diabetes.
An indication of type 1 diabetes can also be provided by the long-term sugar value (hemoglobin A1c value, HbA1c). It shows the average blood sugar concentration of the past two months as a percentage. A value of more than 6.5 percent may indicate diabetes.