4 Things to Know about Type 1 Diabetes


Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that affects more than 2 million Americans.

  • Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not make insulin. In 1974, two studies published here and here in The Lancet highlighted research that showed how type-1 diabetes is associated with the development of antibodies directed against insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.
  • Type 1 diabetes has three stages: stage 1, where patients are presymptomatic with normal blood glucose levels; stage 2, where patients are presymptomatic but have developed glucose intolerance; and stage 3, where patients develop symptoms that include increased hunger and thirst, blurry vision, fatigue, and diabetic ketoacidosis, a complication in which acids build up in the blood.
  • In 2021, 38.4 million Americans had diabetes. Of these, 2 million had type 1 diabetes, including about 304,000 children, according to the CDC. About 1.7 million adults aged 20 years and older reported having type 1 diabetes and are using insulin. Between 2002 and 2018, the overall incidence of type 1 diabetes increased significantly. Non-Hispanic Asian or Pacific Islander children and adolescents has the largest significant increases in incidence of type 1 diabetes but non-Hispanic White children and adolescents had the highest overall incidence of type diabetes
  • A large retrospective study published in the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy in 2020 of pediatric and adult patients with type 1 diabetes showed that overall medical costs averaged about $1,500 per patient per month, and diabetes-related costs totaled almost $800 per patient per month. Pharmacy costs contributed to more than half of the monthly diabetes related costs.

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