Type 1 diabetes: Is it inherited?

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Type 1 diabetes: Is it inherited?

Question

My husband has type 1 diabetes. We are expecting our first child soon. Is our baby at high risk of diabetes? Can it be prevented?

Nadine
Alaska

Answer

Genetics play a role in type 1 diabetes — but to a lesser degree than in type 2 diabetes. In general, a child has an increased risk of type 1 diabetes if a parent has the disease. But the risk is still low. Factors that influence this risk include:

  • The sex of the parent with diabetes. The risk of type 1 diabetes in the general population is 1 percent to 2 percent. If your mother has type 1 diabetes, your risk is 2 percent to 4 percent. If your father has it, your risk is 6 percent to 8 percent.
  • The age at which the parent developed diabetes. The younger the age, the greater the risk that the child will get the disease.

Type 1 diabetes is one of the most common childhood diseases. It usually begins in puberty. Scientists have identified a gene mutation (SUMO-4) that, when present, increases the risk of this disease in children.

Although you can't prevent type 1 diabetes, you can talk to your doctor about screening your child.

Last Updated: 01/31/2006
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