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Diabetes: Overview

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Diabetes is a condition in which the body’s levels of blood sugar and the hormone insulin are out of balance. It is one of the most common diseases in the United States, and its numbers are constantly rising. There are three main forms of diabetes:

  • Type 1, in which the body does not make enough insulin
  • Type 2, in which the body does not make enough insulin or it doesn’t use the insulin properly
  • Gestational (pronounced je-STEY-shuhn-ul), which occurs only during pregnancy

The NICHD is one of many federal agencies and NIH Institutes that supports research on diabetes. Although the Institute studies different aspects of all three types of diabetes, the NICHD is not the primary resource for patient information about type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse at and the National Diabetes Education Program at provide detailed patient information about type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

The patient information provided in this topic focuses on gestational diabetes.

In addition, the Research Information section of this topic describes the NICHD’s research efforts related to all three types of diabetes—type 1 diabetes (also known as juvenile diabetes), type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes. The Institute also studies factors that contribute to diabetes, such as obesity, and conditions that are associated with diabetes, such as polycystic ovary syndrome.

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Common Name

  • Diabetes

Medical or Scientific Names

  • Diabetes mellitus (pronounced mell-EH-tiss)
  • Gestational diabetes mellitus
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