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06-14-2018 | Other types of diabetes | Review | Article

Type 1 Diabetes in a Resource-Poor Setting: Malnutrition Related, Malnutrition Modified, or Just Diabetes?

Journal: Current Diabetes Reports

Authors: Shitaye Alemu Balcha, David I.W. Phillips, Elisabeth R. Trimble

Publisher: Springer US



Purpose of Review

Very little is known about the occurrence of type 1 diabetes (T1DM) in resource-poor countries and particularly in their rural hinterlands.

Recent Findings

Studies of the epidemiology of T1DM in Ethiopia and similar countries in sub-Saharan Africa show that the pattern of presenting disease differs substantially from that in the West. Typically, the peak age of onset of the disease is more than a decade later with a male excess and a low prevalence of indicators of islet-cell autoimmunity. It is also associated with markers of undernutrition.


These findings raise the question as to whether the principal form of T1DM seen in these resource-poor communities has a different pathogenesis. Whether the disease is a direct result of malnutrition or whether malnutrition may modify the expression of islet-cell autoimmunity is unclear. However, the poor prognosis in these settings underlines the urgent need for detailed clinical and epidemiological studies.
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