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Diabetes Insipidus in Children

  • Here are some of the basics about diabetes insipidus:

    • Diabetes insipidus is a rare disorder of vasopressin (also called the antidiuretic hormone or ADH), a hormone that helps the kidneys regulate the amount of water in the body.

    • Normally, the pituitary gland releases vasopressin to decrease the amount of urine the kidneys send to the bladder, thus keeping you from getting dehydrated.

    If your child has diabetes insipidus, there’s either not enough

    vasopressin or his kidneys can’t respond to it normally, which means the body gets rid of more water in the urine than it should. This can be dangerous. 

    There are two basic kinds of diabetes insipidus: 

    • Central diabetes insipidus occurs when the body doesn’t produce (or release) enough vasopressin. It’s usually a result of a problem in the brain or central nervous system.
      • It’s by far the most common form of diabetes insipidus, affecting almost all of the children with the condition.
      • It is easily treated with medication.
    • Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus occurs when there’s a genetic or other problem that doesn’t allow the kidneys to respond normally to vasopressin.
      • This type of diabetes insipidus is much less common, and is more difficult to treat. 

    How Boston Children's Hospital approaches diabetes insipidus

    At Boston Children's, children with diabetes insipidus are treated through our General Endocrinology Program—a multidisciplinary program that provides comprehensive diagnosis, treatment and management of patients with disorders associated with the endocrine system, which is the system of glands, each of which secretes a type of hormone into the bloodstream to regulate the body.

    Our goal is to teach patients and their families how to effectively manage the condition, and to empower people with diabetes insipidus to live normal lives.

    Diabetes insipidus: Reviewed by Joseph Majzoub, MD
    ©Boston Children's Hospital; posted in 2012

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