There are other types of diabetes, though they occur less frequently. Here are the main types.
Diabetes resulting from specific disease
Diabetes can occur in individuals suffering or having suffered from certain disease or health conditions, such as:
- Pancreatic diseases (cystic fibrosis, cancer, pancreatitis, pancreatectomy, etc.)
- Endocrine diseases (Cushing syndrome, acromegaly, hyperthyroid, etc.)
- Genetic syndromes (Down syndrome, Friedreich ataxia, Turner syndrome, etc.)
- Viral infections (congenial rubella, cytomegalovirus, etc.)
Diabetes resulting from medication
Certain drugs can trigger the onset of diabetes, either temporarily or permanently. Here are the main ones:
- Glucocorticoids, such as cortisone
- Drugs prescribed for a cancer or to stop an organ-transplant rejection
- Certain drugs used to treat high blood pressure (thiazides)
- Drugs for hypothyroid
- Certain drugs used to treat high cholesterol (statins)
- Drugs to treat epilepsy
- Drugs used to treat certain mental health problems
MODY and LADA diabetes
Some people have a form of diabetes that cannot be classified as either type 1 or type 2. These are rare cases where a diagnosis is difficult or questionable due to an unexpected or atypical development of the disease.
MODY (Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young)
MODY is a rare form of diabetes that generally occurs before the age of 25 in individuals of normal weight. Although many of the characteristics are similar to type 1 diabetes, this diabetes more closely resembles type 2. Among others, the symptoms at the time of diagnosis are less pronounced than type 1 diabetes and there is no acidosis present.
This diabetes is characterized by abnormal insulin secretion due to a genetic mutation. This condition is highly hereditary; the chances of transmission to a child are 50% if either parent carries the genetic defect.
MODY is often first diagnosed as type 1 diabetes. However, treating it requires surprisingly little insulin, even over an extended period of time. An atypical development may also be a clue that this is MODY diabetes rather than type 1. If you suspect this type of diabetes, you can undergo genetic testing to identify the responsible gene.
MODY can sometimes be treated in ways other than by insulin injections, because the pancreas is still secreting insulin, unlike a person with type 1 diabetes who is dependent on insulin to survive because the pancreas is unable to produce insulin.
LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adults)
LADA generally appears in adults 30 to 50 years of age. Like type 1 diabetes, there is an autoimmune component characterized by the presence of antibodies in the blood. These antibodies cause a slow and progressive destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas (the cells responsible for insulin production), increasing the risk of a rapid progression to insulin dependence. However, LADA differs from type 1 diabetes by the slower progression of the complete destruction of the beta cells. LADA can present like type 2 diabetes and doesn’t necessarily require insulin when diagnosed. It could take from 6 months to 6 years before insulin treatment becomes necessary.
Research and writing: Diabetes Québec Team of Health Care Professionals.
May 2014 (updated on July 2018)
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Expert Committee. Diabetes Canada 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada: Appendix 2 Etiologic Classification of Diabetes Mellitus. Can J Diabetes 2018; 42 (Suppl 1): S308.
American Diabetes Association. (2005). Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults [online]. http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/54/suppl_2/S68.full (consulted on May 15, 2014)
Leslie D. and Valeri C. (2003) “LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults)”, Diabetes Voice, Vol. 48, p.14-16, International Diabetes Federation.
Geoffroy L. and Gonthier M. (2012). “Le diabète sous toutes ces formes” Le diabète chez l’enfant et l’adolescent, 2e édition. Montréal: Éditions du CHU Ste-Justine.