Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Childhood Diabetes Starts Early, New Test Shows

WebMD Health News

Feb. 7, 2000 (Atlanta) -- A new test helps predict childhood diabetes. According to studies published in February's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the test shows that diabetes, caused by immune defects that destroy insulin-producing cells, often begin in the first year of life. This may make it possible in the future to start therapy to prevent the disease before it has a chance to develop.

"I think that childhood diabetes is predictable," lead investigator George S. Eisenbarth, MD, PhD, tells WebMD. "We didn't know how early the immune system had locked in the destructive pathway that leads to diabetes."

Childhood diabetes appears to be linked to specific genetic defects. Children with a diabetic parent or sibling are 25 times more likely to develop diabetes than the average child, Eisenbarth's colleague, Marian Rewers, MD, PhD, tells WebMD. Ten percent of these children inherit a particularly dangerous diabetes gene, and half of them get diabetes by the time they are five years old. But an early warning sign, antibodies that attack a person's own cells or proteins -- called autoantibodies -- appear even earlier.

Tests for two other types of diabetes-related autoantibodies, called GAA and IA-2, have been available for at least seven years, Eisenbarth says. The new test now makes it possible to test for a third type of autoantibody -- called anti-insulin antibodies -- and suggests that these are the first to appear. "In young kids we usually see insulin antibodies first," Rewers says. "It is hard to pinpoint as we don't test every day. But from our data it seems anti-insulin antibodies are very important."

Eisenbarth and co-workers at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes at the University of Colorado in Denver began testing 934 young children at an average age of nine months: 131 close relatives of a type 1 diabetes patient and 803 children from the general population. Type 1 diabetes is the form of the disease that develops most often in children.

Of five children found to have the anti-insulin antibody before their first birthday, four developed diabetes by age three and a half -- and the fifth child is not yet two years old. Only one of the 929 children who initially tested negative for the antibody developed diabetes -- and this child tested positive at his second visit, shortly after reaching age one.

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
Home Healthcare

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner