Did you know that there is a type of diabetes that affects newborn babies and infants? Diabetes is of two types – type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but there is a rare type of diabetes called monogenic diabetes. This type of diabetes is caused by a genetic mutation in one gene that affects insulin production and makes the pancreas produce very less insulin hormone, resulting in high blood sugar levels. Monogenic diabetes affects newborns, young adolescents, and adults. With early diagnosis and treatment, you can treat this diabetes.  

Types of Monogenic Diabetes 

There are 2 types of monogenic diabetes.  

  1. Neonatal diabetes mellitus (NDM): This type of monogenic diabetes affects newborns or infants in the first 6 to 12 months of their life. This is so rare that only 1 out of 400,000 infants are found to have this disease. Infants are not able to produce enough insulin in their bodies, which leads to high blood glucose. Researchers have been able to identify several specific genes and mutations that can cause NDM (in which half of them are lifelong while others temporarily disappear on their own but reappear later in life). Without proper treatment the lack of insulin causes the body to produce a chemical called ‘ketones,’ which can lead to a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis 
  2. MODY: MODY stands for “Maturity-onset diabetes of the young.” As the name implies, this type of monogenic diabetes occurs in adolescents or young adults. MODY limits the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin hormones leading to high blood glucose levels. If left untreated it might do the same damage in the body that type 2 diabetes does (nerves, blood vessels, eyes, and kidneys damages). MODY can be caused by gene mutations (some mutations increase the blood glucose level slightly leading to prediabetes while other mutations that lead to high blood glucose levels leading to diabetes). MODY is often hard to diagnose because it produces similar symptoms as type 1 or type 2 diabetes but, people with MODY do not suffer from overweight or obesity or the other risk of type 2 diabetes such as high blood pressure or abnormal blood fat levels.  

Causes 

Monogenic diabetes occurs due to mutation in genes. This type of diabetes happens to one parent in the family which is called “autosomal dominant” and passes on to the next generations. But in some cases, mutations or changes happen automatically, which means not every time it is inherited.  

Symptoms 

Symptoms depend on the kind of monogenic diabetes you have: 

NDM symptoms  

  • Frequent urination 
  • Fast breathing  
  • Dehydration 

MODY symptoms  

  • Frequent urination 
  • Increases in thirst 
  • Dehydration 
  • Blurry vision 
  • Recurrent skin infections 
  • Recurrent yeast infections 

Diagnosis 

Diagnosis is done through blood sugar tests and genetic tests to diagnose monogenic diabetes (like MODY and NDM). Genetic tests are done through blood or saliva samples. A genetic test is recommended by the National Institute of Health if: 

  • A 6-month-old baby is diagnosed with diabetes. 
  • Diabetes is diagnosed in adolescents or young adults, especially those who have a family history of diabetes.  
  • A person who has stable, mild fasting hyperglycemia (especially when obesity is not present). 

If a newborn baby has symptoms of diabetes, you should get a genetic test to see whether he/she has monogenic diabetes or not. Without genetic testing, NDM often gets missed or misdiagnosed. 

Treatment 

Treatment depends on the type and severity of the condition of monogenic diabetes people. Some forms of monogenic diabetes get healed on their own by following a healthy diet or exercise plans, while some require insulin treatment (an oral medication treatment called sulfonylurea is given to people to increase insulin in their blood).  

There are many types of diabetes that are yet to be discovered. Right now, 14 distinct types of genes cause MODY. So, it is best that you keep yourself healthy to prevent any type of diabetes. 

Want to know the best lifestyle to follow to prevent diabetes? 

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