Nutrition Tip  
  April 2011
LADA - Latent Auto Immune Diabetes in Adults  

Article by Caitlin Thronton- Diabetic Living Fall 2011
Interviews with James McCallum MD- Scripps Clinic in LaJolla, CA
Sally Pinkstaff MD, PhD- Sinai Hospital, Baltimore
Center for Disease Control
Notes added by Lisa Merrill MS, RD, CDE

LADA is an autoimmune disease.  The body attacks itself by destroying beta cells in the pancreas which produce insulin.  People with LADA (unlike Type I diabetics) do not need insulin right away.  They can start treatment with oral meds like type II but the antibodies will slowly destroy more beta cells and insulin will dwindle and insulin therapy becomes a must. 
Another way to think about it is a “slow moving Type I diabetes in adults”.

Eventually people with LADA stop producing insulin and sugars will spike and require insulin, no matter how good diet and exercise are.  This process “the honeymoon period” (not needing insulin) can last a few years but usually 1-3 years.

LADA is often misdiagnosed as Type II.  90-95% of the diabetics in the US have Type II.  Become suspicious if you are <50 and are lean and active and have no family history.

Here are some questions to ask that may be clues you have LADA versus Type II.

  • You’re younger than 50
  • Your weight is in normal range/and or you are active
  • You have a family history of autoimmune disease (thyroid, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus)
  • You have no family history of Type II
  • You require insulin because other blood glucose meds are not working

What to do if you suspect you have LADA
1. Request a c-peptide test. This shows how much insulin your pancreas is producing

2. Request a GAD antibody test.  A positive test means your body has cells that are attacking your immune system.

3. Look for an endocrinologist who specializes in this.  If you can’t find one your medical provider and team including a Registered Dietitian or Certified Diabetic Educator can help you plan ahead and keep a close eye on your blood sugars, A1C and other treatments necessary.

Even if you are misdiagnosed, accurate treatment, not the label is the best way to prevent complications.

Online support  is a personal blog written by Cherise Shockley who has LADA.

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