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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Brittle diabetes

Other Names for this Disease
  • Brittle diabetes mellitus
  • Brittle type 1 diabetes
  • Labile diabetes
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Brittle diabetes is characterized by severe instability of blood glucose levels with frequent and unpredictable episodes of hypoglycemia and/or ketoacidosis that disrupt quality of life, often requiring frequent or prolonged hospitalizations.[1] These unpredictable episodes are due to an absolute insulin dependency, affecting type 1 diabetics almost exclusively. Brittle diabetes is most common in women in their twenties or thirties, but can occur at any age and in either gender. The condition may be caused by stress and hormonal inbalance, neglect of self-care (noncompliance), or underlying medical conditions such as malabsorption, delayed gastric emptying due to autonomic neuropathy, drug or alcohol use or abnormal insulin absorption or degradation.[1][2] Treatment is difficult and dependent upon the underlying cause.[1]
Last updated: 8/22/2013


  1. McCulloch DK. The adult patient with brittle diabetes mellitus. UpToDate. August 17, 2012; Accessed 8/8/2013.
  2. Difference: Stable VS Brittle. Brittle Diabetes Foundation.!bd-info/vstc8=difference;-stable-vs-brittle. Accessed 8/8/2013.
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Basic Information

  • UpToDate for patients has an information page on brittle diabetes. Click on UpToDate to view the information page.

General Information

  • National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse

In Depth Information

  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Brittle diabetes. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.