A study by researchers in New York has revealed the threat of a new form of diabetes caused by malnutrition. This is significantly different from Type 1 or 2, and should be considered a distinct form of the disease.
Patients with this form of disease are typically thin, poor teens and young adults, who rarely live over a year after diagnosis. Insulin injections do not usually help, and can even cause death from low blood sugar.
“Current scientific literature offers no guidance on managing malnutrition-related diabetes, which is rare in high-income nations but exists in more than 60 low- and middle-income countries,” said study author Dr Meredith Hawkins, founding director of the Global Diabetes Institute at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.
“The doctors in those countries read Western medical journals, so they don't learn about malnutritionrelated diabetes and don't suspect it in their patients,” Hawkins explained in a college news release.
“We hope our findings will increase awareness of this disease, which is so devastating to so many people, and will pave the way for effective treatment strategies.”
Hawkins noted that diabetes affects 1 in 10 adults worldwide, and three-quarters of them (400 million) live in low- and middleincome countries.
“In those countries where it’s been studied, the prevalence of malnutrition-related diabetes among people with diabetes is about 20%, meaning that about 80 million people may be affected worldwide.”
Hawkins compared this to the “estimated 38 million people” living with HIV/AIDS in the world today, and concluded: “We clearly need to learn a lot more about malnutrition-related diabetes and how best to treat it.”
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