Are there five types of diabetes?

A study published in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology in March 2018 has generated a lot of interest with its suggestion diabetes could be re-classified into five sub types. Researchers looked at data from four mixed diabetes registries of nearly 15,000 people in Sweden and Finland. After some complex statistical data analysis, they identified five categories of diabetes according to a measure of blood glucose control, age at diagnosis, Body Mass Index (BMI), the presence of certain antibodies linked to autoimmune diabetes and a measure of insulin sensitivity.

The findings have shed light on variations in response to treatment among people with diabetes, and may help to identify those at high risk of complications earlier.

The five new categories named by the research team are:

SAID – Severe Autoimmune Diabetes overlaps with type 1 diabetes and latent autoimmune diabetes in adults. These patients are characterised by low BMI, poor metabolic control, insulin deficiency and the presence of antibodies to glutamic acid decarboxylase.

SIDD – Severe Insulin-deficient Diabetes is similar to SAID, but without detection of antibodies to glutamic decarboxylase.

SIRD – Severe Insulin-resistant Diabetes is characterised by high insulin resistance and high BMI.

MOD – Mild Obesity-related Diabetes. Patients are obese but do not have insulin-resistance.

MARD – Mild Age-related Diabetes. These are older patients with only mild metabolic abnormalities.

Our verdict

The research reveals some insightful findings, and its preliminary results have broken down the diagnosis of diabetes into much more detail. However, some questions remain unanswered, such as whether patients can move between the different classifications, and whether the different classifications have different causes. Also, this study is from north-Europeans and may not apply to Australians. Therefore, further work is needed to explore the answers and provide a full picture into the diagnosis of diabetes.

The answer to whether we have five types of diabetes is – maybe.

Look out for more on this study in future enewsletters. We will update you as soon as further research comes out.

What does this research mean to you?

DON’T PANIC! As there are many unanswered questions from this study, we are going to continue using the current diabetes classification from National Diabetes Service Scheme (NDSS) for registrations. NDSS registrations, it registers people under type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes or other diabetes.

For more information about the NDSS registration, please visit Diabetes Australia website: https://www.ndss.com.au/registration. If you do have any concern about your registration and the type of diabetes, you can speak to your diabetes team or call the NDSS Helpline on 1300 136 588.

Me is all about what you need to do for yourself, managing your diabetes and doing what you can.
Keywords: diabetesresearch

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