Diabetes Forecast

The Healthy Living Magazine

Does My Age of Diagnosis Affect My Children's Risk?

Is there any correlation between being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at a later age and less risk that your children will develop diabetes? I was diagnosed at 31. Richard Davey, Woodridge, Illinois

, ,

Janis McWilliams, RN, MSN, CDE, BC-ADM, responds:

Yes, there is evidence that a later age of diagnosis reduces your children's risk.

What to Know: Genes alone aren't enough to cause diabetes. People inherit a predisposition to develop type 1 diabetes, and then something in their environment must trigger the disease. Scientists are trying to discover what the triggers are; the suspects include viruses.

Fathers with type 1 diabetes have a greater chance than mothers of having a child who develops the disease. While the evidence on exact risk rates is not yet crystal clear, the best data show that, in general, the odds of a man with type 1 diabetes having a child with type 1 diabetes are 1 in 17, according to the American Diabetes Association. If you are a woman with type 1 diabetes and your child was born before you were 25, your child's risk is estimated at 1 in 25; if your child was born after you turned 25, your child's risk is believed to be 1 in 100.

A child's risk for developing type 1 is less if the parent developed diabetes at an older age. A child's risk is doubled, the ADA says, if the parent developed type 1 diabetes before age 11. If both parents have type 1 diabetes, the risk to the child is estimated at from 10 to 25 percent.

Find Out More: Most people who develop type 1 diabetes have immune markers in their blood, such as certain antibodies and enzymes. Blood tests for such markers or for specific genes can gauge the risk for developing type 1 in relatives of people with the disease.

Takeaways: Relatives of people with type 1 diabetes may be able to participate in studies (and assess their own risk) through TrialNet, a network of researchers dedicated to the study, prevention, and early treatment of type 1. For details, go to diabetestrialnet.org.


Get Free Health Tips

Register for free recipes, news you can use, and simple health tips – delivered right to your inbox.