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May 27, 2001

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from New York, New York, USA:

My 13 year old son has just developed type 1 diabetes and is antibody positive. I have a friend who is 47. diagnosed at age 11, and who has required very low doses of insulin all her life. Are there cases which require very little insulin for years or which turn out to be MODY? Do any of the MODY classifications have antibodies in the blood?

Answer:

If your son has a positive antibody test then, by definition, he has type 1A (autoimmune) which is an entirely different form of diabetes to any of the now six or so MODY variants. Your son is going to require some form of insulin supplementation for the rest of his life though not necessarily by injection.

Your friend, who was diagnosed before the days of antibody testing, may well have what is nowadays called type 1B diabetes, a little understood variant that also has an acute onset, but in about 50% of cases, can ultimately be managed on little or no insulin. There are a number of other possibilities, but since treatment is essentially the same for all the cost of specific diagnosis is not usually justified.

DOB