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Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA): Impacts of a Diagnosis on Daily Living

Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) is a form of type 1 diabetes (T1D) that also produces antibodies that destroy the pancreas’s insulin-producing beta cells. It is commonly misdiagnosed as type 2 diabetes (T2D) since its onset is often after the age of 30 and happens more progressively than in typical T1D cases. Because of this, people in the early stages of the illness frequently experience a lack of understanding and treatment failures until the appropriate diagnosis is made and their insulin treatment is started. People with LADA face the same challenges as individuals with T1D in addition to those hardships.

Hard-to-change habits

For older people who are diagnosed with LADA, changing lifestyle habits that are deeply rooted in their daily lives is a major challenge. A Spanish research team looked at the quality of life of people living with LADA. The researchers recruited a group of participants with LADA, a group with T1D (similar treatments) and a group with T2D (similar age). They assessed the satisfaction of participants with their current treatment and their diabetes-related quality of life using questionnaires. 

The study’s findings included the following:

  • Compared to people of the same age with T2D, individuals with LADA reported having a lower diabetes-related quality of life.
  • Compared to people with T1D using the same treatment, individuals with LADA reported a comparable diabetes-related quality of life.
  • In general, people with LADA had lower satisfaction with their treatment, and they reported having more hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia episodes than the groups with T1D or T2D.

Additional support for this population

The BETTER team is working with several researchers and healthcare professionals, and is also working with partner-patients with T1D. One of them, Manon Lalonde, received a LADA diagnosis at the age of 50: 

The lack of support for a person who is diagnosed very late is something that needs to be improved. I was an international-level athlete who trained six days a week. My life was completely turned upside down by this diagnosis. I had no one that I could turn to for information on how to manage my training to avoid hypoglycemia and everything that comes with diabetes. I’m aware that a diabetic person who is diagnosed at an earlier age also faces frustration when they become an adult, but they often have an existing diabetes support network. So, their experience as a diabetic is completely different. For an adult aged 40 or 50 who is newly diagnosed, that support network is nearly or totally non-existent.

Manon Lalonde, Patient-Partner of the BETTER project

About 7% of patients who signed up for the BETTER registry reported that they received a LADA diagnosis. We’re planning to:

  • Raise the awareness of healthcare professionals about this growing problem since the average age for a T1D diagnosis is getting higher, and the right type of diabetes is often not diagnosed right away.
  • Assess the specific challenges faced by those individuals.
  • Better define and understand LADA, what causes its onset, and its clinical evolution over time.

The BETTER registry would like to paint a picture of the T1D population to better meet its unique needs.

Sign up, or sign up your child, at www.type1better.com.

Reference

  • Granado-Casas, M., Martínez-Alonso, M., Alcubierre, N., et al. (2017). Decreased quality of life and treatment satisfaction in patients with latent autoimmune diabetes of the adult. PeerJ, 5. doi:10.7717/peerj.3928