What is LADA?


Note: This article is part of our library of resources for Forms of Diabetes. 

What is LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults)?

LADA, (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults) diabetes is rare and known as “late-onset” diabetes. Most adults diagnosed with LADA are older than 30 years of age. It’s progression is slow; sometimes causing a misdiagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. LADA patients, (like Type 2), may initially use oral medication, exercise and diet to manage their diabetes, but eventually, the pancreas will altogether stop producing insulin, (like Type 1), thus necessitating insulin injections. This can take anywhere from a few months after diagnosis to several years.

How do you know the difference?

The detection of low C-peptides and the increased levels of antibodies against pancreatic islets indicate LADA diabetes instead of Type 2, (typically Type 2 diabetes has high C-peptides in comparison). Insult failure as opposed to insulin resistance also verifies that it is LADA. Especially if there is not a family history of diabetes and there is no obesity factor, this additional testing is encouraged. That is not to say people with LADA are all thin; however, being overweight with LADA can also contribute to a misdiagnosis of Type 2.

It’s believed that more than 50% of non-obesity-related Type 2 diabetes diagnoses may actually be LADA. In terms of the diabetes population, LADA is estimated to account for 5-10% of cases. Symptoms are similar to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes – excessive thirst, drinking and urination, in addition to blurry vision.

As with any diabetes diagnosis, it’s encouraged that an endocrinologist is consulted and a diabetes management plan is formed to help slow diabetes progression and prevent possible diabetes complications. Every body is unique and diabetes development varies based on this. 

Read Rachel Zinman’s journey with LADA and how she identifies in the world of diabetes.