What Is Juvenile Diabetes?

Board-certified otolaryngologist Angelo Consiglio, MD, practices his specialty at the Jackson Hospital in Marianna, Florida, about 65 miles northwest of Tallahassee. He earned his medical degree from the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois, and completed his residency at Loyola University’s Medical Center. He enthusiastically supports several of his church’s charitable organizations, including the Christian Brothers, the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Order of St. Benedict. In addition, Dr. Angelo Consiglio promotes the work of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Juvenile diabetes, more commonly known today as Type 1 diabetes, or T1D, is a relatively rare condition in which the body’s pancreas does not produce insulin, a hormone that’s critical to the body’s conversion of sugar and starches into energy. Only about 5 percent of all people with diabetes have T1D, which is usually diagnosed in children, but occasionally occurs in young adults. There is no cure or vaccine for T1D.

Although all the causes of T1D aren’t yet known, one cause is a malfunction in the immune system that directs it to attack the pancreas and destroy the beta cells that produce insulin. There are many complications resulting from T1D, among the most serious of which are eye diseases like retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma; kidney damage, leading to kidney failure and heart disease; and problems with blood circulation and nerve damage, especially in the feet and legs.

T1D is treated by replacing the missing insulin, which means daily injections of the hormone. Proper care includes regular monitoring of blood sugar levels and food intake. Children diagnosed with T1D must develop the discipline necessary to monitor their own blood sugar levels.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation was established in 1970 by people with a personal connection to T1D. It has three main priorities. The highest of these has always been funding the research into finding a cure for T1D and its complications. Another priority is funding research into improving the treatments for people who currently have T1D. The foundation’s third priority is supporting ongoing research into ways to prevent T1D.