Is Type 1 Diabetes Genetic? 

Type 1 diabetes is a disease that is caused by the pancreas not producing enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone…(continue reading)

Type 1 diabetes is a disease that is caused by the pancreas not producing enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy.

If you have type 1 diabetes, your body cannot use glucose for energy properly which can lead to serious health problems.

In this article, we will talk about whether type 1 diabetes is genetic, the genes that play a role in type 1 diabetes, and the odds of a child having it if one of their parents has it.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes, also called diabetes mellitus, is a common disease that is characterized by high blood sugar levels.

The condition is caused by the body’s inability to produce or use insulin properly.

Insulin is a hormone that is responsible for transporting glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into the cells, where it is used for energy.

Without insulin, the body is unable to use glucose for energy and the levels of sugar in the blood become very high which can lead to serious health problems.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

The symptoms of diabetes can vary depending on the type of diabetes you have.

However, some common symptoms of diabetes include:

The first two symptoms, frequent urination and increased hunger and thirst, are the most common symptoms.

What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

There are two main forms of diabetes, type 1 and type 2.

There also is gestational diabetes in pregnant women too, but we will not be focusing on that type today.

Type 1 diabetes is when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin which helps to control the amount of sugar in your blood.

Type 2 diabetes is when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or when the insulin doesn’t work properly.

Type 2 diabetes, which is the most common form, usually starts with insulin resistance, meaning your cells don’t take in the proper amount of insulin.

When type 2 diabetes is allowed to progress, your body then may lack enough insulin to be healthy.

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and is the leading cause of pediatric diabetes. It is also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed in adults over the age of 40, but it is now being seen in younger people as well.

What causes diabetes?

There is no one answer to this question as there is not just one cause of diabetes.

However, some common causes include:

Genetics

You may be more likely to develop diabetes if it runs in your family. This is known as familial or inherited diabetes.

Environmental factors

Exposure to certain toxins or chemicals, obesity, and lack of exercise can all increase your risk of developing diabetes.

Autoimmune disease

In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells, also called beta cells, in the pancreas. It is unknown why the body starts doing this.

What genes play a role in type 1 diabetes?

There is not just one gene that causes type 1 diabetes. Instead, it is a combination of genes that increases your risk of disease development.

Some of these diabetes genes have been identified and are being studied to see how they contribute to the development of type 1 diabetes.

HLA, or human leukocyte antigen, genes are thought to play an important role in the development of diabetes in individuals.

These genes are on chromosome 6 and are involved in the regulation of the immune system. People with certain variations of these genes are more likely to develop type 1 diabetes.

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What are the odds of a child having type 1 diabetes if the father or mother has it?

The risk is about 1 in 17 for the incidence of type 1 diabetes in the children if the father has it. For mothers, the age your mother gave birth to you can be a factor.

If your mother gave birth to you before 25, you have a 1 in 25 chance of developing type 1 diabetes.

However, if your mother gave birth to you after the age of 25 then you have a 1 in 100 chance of developing diabetes, which is about the same rate as the average person whose parents don’t have type 1 diabetes.

There are several risk factors to consider that can boost the chances of your child having diabetes. For example, if both parents have type 1 diabetes, the child’s risk is about 25%.

If either parent had type 1 diabetes before the age of 11, then their child’s chances of developing diabetes doubles. Also, if either parent has autoimmune polyglandular syndrome, the chances of the child having type 1 diabetes are 50%. [Link: https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/genetics-diabetes]

What are my odds of getting type 1 diabetes if my sibling has it?

If your brother or sister has type 1 diabetes, your risk is about 1 in 20 or a 5% chance of developing it. Having an identical twin with type 1 diabetes also increases your odds as you share the same genes.

If your identical twin has type 1 diabetes, then you may have a 50% chance of developing type 1 diabetes yourself. 

Who is most at risk for developing type 1 diabetes?

Besides your family having diabetes, there are several risk factors that increase your chances of developing type 1 diabetes.

These include:

  • Being Caucasian
  • Age – most cases of type 1 diabetes occur as a child, teen, or young adult

Although there are ways to prevent type 2 diabetes, there are no known ways to prevent type 1 diabetes.

Also, diabetes in children is common due to the fact you are more likely to be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes by age 14. However,  you can still be diagnosed with it at any age. 

Summary

Diabetes is a disorder that occurs when your body has high blood glucose levels. Why this happens is dependent on the form of diabetes you have and is not always fully understood.

People with type 1 diabetes means their body has stopped producing enough insulin. This can happen due to genetic factors, environmental factors, or an autoimmune disease.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the cells in your body stop taking in the right amount of insulin needed to function. Eventually, it may develop into your body not having enough insulin either.

Type 1 diabetes can be inherited, although that is not always the case. If a parent has type 1 diabetes, then it can increase your risk for type 1 diabetes too.

On the other hand, type 2 diabetes is primarily due to lifestyle factors, such as being obese, and sometimes genetic risk factors too.

Other individuals at risk of developing type 1 diabetes include young people, as it is most often diagnosed by early adulthood, and in Caucasian people.

If you have any more questions please talk to your doctor or health care professionals.

References and Sources:

CDC 

American Diabetes Association 

Fact Checked and Editorial Process

Diabetic.org is devoted to producing expert and accurate articles and information for our readers by hiring experts, journalists, medical professionals, and our growing Diabetic.org community. We encourage you to read more about our content, editing, and fact checking methods here. This was fact checked by Erik Rivera and medically reviewed by Dr. Angel Rivera. 

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