What is LADA Diabetes?

LADA Diabetes stands for “Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults.”

It’s also called Diabetes 1.5.

I sometimes forget what the acronym stands for.  I think of it as “late onset Type 1.”

It is usually treated the same way as Type 1 diabetes, which is with insulin.  What makes it different from Type 1 is that the age of onset is in adulthood and the progression of the diabetes is usually more gradual.

LADA diabetes may initially be mis-diagnosed as Type II diabetes.  Treatment for type 2 diabetes, like diet and exercise changes, as well as some medication like metformin, may initially help, but over time insulin is needed.  I’ve read that insulin treatment early on is desirable, and below are some articles that discuss treatment differences.

I’ve personally been frustrated with the lack of specific LADA diabetes information, which is part of why I created this website.  On my medical records it says “Treated as Type 1”.   I was initially treated as if I may have Type II.  Misdiagnosis as Type II is common.  There are blood tests that can be done to help with diagnosis.  It’s better to have the correct diagnosis as early as possible.  In general, people with LADA are leaner (have a lower BMI), than people with type II diabetes.  For me, weight loss was a symptom of the diabetes.

Since I am not a doctor, I will refer you to the following excellent resources for more information.

LADA Diabetes articles and links

  • The Other Diabetes: LADA, or Type 1.5: Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults is gradually being understood.  This Diabetes Forecast article says that LADA accounts for 10% of all diabetes cases!  Tetsuro Kobayashi, MD, PhD, is quoted in this article in saying that early diagnosis is important because “Insulin treatment can preserve beta cell function.”
  • Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA): What is it? Article from The Mayo Clinic.
  • LADA: Time to Update Diabetes Classification? Veronica Hackethal, MD discusses the differences between people with Type 1 Diabetes and LADA Diabetes, and whether LADA should be a separate classification.  Learn about diagnosis details.
  • A Lada Thoughts T’ara Smith talks about how two doctors missed the LADA diagnosis and that it took 2 years to get the right diagnosis and treatment.
  • Case Studies Diagnosing LADA in Adults with “Brittle Diabetes”  This article describes a person who is not responding well to Metformin, is not overweight, and is not able to lower their A1C with diet and exercise changes.  They have a sister with an autoimmune thyroid condition.  They have lost weight recently.  All of these things point to a possibility of something other than Type II.  The doctor should order a C-peptide test and blood tests for auto-antibodies like GAD.  A quote from this article: “In LADA, however, the primary problem to be addressed is insulin deficiency caused by failing beta cells rather than insulin resistance.