A Matter Of Health For SCOTUS Nominee

President Obama shares a laugh with Sonia Sotomayor as he announces her nomination to the Supreme Co

Appeals Court Judge Sonya Sotomayor shares a laugh with President Obama as he announces her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court today. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Are questions about President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's health fair game during her vetting process?

That question is being posed in blogospheric circles at the moment because the appeals court judge has Type 1 diabetes, often referred to as juvenile diabetes. She was diagnosed with the disease when she was 8.

Type 1 diabetes, occurs when the body's immune system attacks and destroys cells in the pancreas that produce insulin — a hormone that helps the body process glucose. Diabetics need to monitor their blood glucose levels frequently and make sure they are getting enough insulin, usually through injections.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation says that people with Type 1 diabetes have a shorter life expectancy and an increased chance of cardiovascular disease. The JDRF says a child daignosed with Type 1 will live 7 to 10 years less, on average, than a child without the disease.

Gawker sounds a warning that Sotomayor is 54 already and is "a poor risk when it comes to longevity."

But diabetes support websites like DiabetesMine say the disease is extremely manageable and should not become an issue in Sotomayor's confirmation process.

JDRF publishes a list of diabetics who are famous in their fields. Some of the longest living with the disease include actress Mary Tyler Moore, going strong at age 72 and a long-time advocate for the disease, former Soviet Premier and current Social Democrats Party Leader Mikhail Gorbachev, 72, and McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, who died at age 82.

NPR's Joe Shapiro will have more on this story for All Things Considered on Wednesday.



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