Diabetes: Overview

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.

What causes diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is caused by autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, resulting in insulin deficiency. Type 2 diabetes is different because the pancreas still makes insulin, but cannot produce enough insulin to overcome the body’s insulin resistance.

Who gets diabetes?

Diabetes can develop at any age. Type 1 diabetes is commonly referred to as childhood diabetes or juvenile diabetes because it often presents in childhood and adolescence. Children with a strong family history of autoimmune disease are at a higher risk for developing Type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes in children generally presents during adolescence, due to the increased insulin resistance associated with puberty. Children who are obese and have a strong family history of Type 2 diabetes are at a higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

Helpful resources

At Children's Hospital Colorado on Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, a Family Health Library is available with information in broad areas such as parenting, child development, and medical diagnosis in children. Please feel free to stop by and use this great resource as you would like.