What Is Diabetes?

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NBC Bay Area

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes is a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors appear to play roles.

Type 1
An autoimmune disease in which the body does not produce any insulin, most often occurring in children and young adults. People with type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections to stay alive.

Type 2
A metabolic disorder resulting from the body's inability to make enough, or properly use, insulin. This form of the disease is associated with older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, prior history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity.

Gestational diabetes develops in 2 – 5 percent of all pregnancies but disappears when a pregnancy is over. Women who have had gestational diabetes are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life. After pregnancy, 5-10% of women with gestational diabetes are found to have type 2 diabetes, and women who have had gestational diabetes have a 20-50% chance of developing diabetes in the next 5-10 years.

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