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Glandular disorders

Disorders in other hormone-producing glands for insulin is the true hormone of the pancreas are also recognized as being associated with diabetes or possibly leading to its development. The pituitary gland, situated at the base of the brain, secretes many hormones that control a considerable number of functions in the human body. One of these is the growth hormone, particularly active in early infancy and adolescence. The development of diabetes in children is known to peak at times of maximum growth (80 per cent of diabetic children are over-height for their age at the time of the disorder's onset) and growth hormone is also responsible for the increasing size of the pregnant woman's baby. Thus over secretion of growth hormone may overstretch the pancreas' ability to cope with a rapidly increasing size in the body or it may be very much less simple than that.

Certainly diabetes is accepted as being a disorder in which the pancreas and its secretion of insulin is mainly involved. Insulin comes from the special groups of cells in the pancreas called long before the chemistry of it all was understood the islet cells of the islets of Langerhans. Insulin itself controls the levels of sugar in the blood and, in the normal healthy human who has not eaten for a specific period (eight hours), that sugar level is consistently around 60 to 90 milligrams per 100 milliliters (sometimes expressed in S.I. - Systeme Internationale units or millimoles [mmol]) of blood a scientific test referred to as the 'fasting blood sugar'. The blood sugar rises after a meal and this makes the release of insulin from the pancreas increase an hour or two later. In the diabetic this normal control mechanism fails, and to understand why, the chemistry of carbohydrate metabolism or the body's use of sugar has to be understood.

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