Diabetes is a hereditary disease, which means that the child is at high risk of developing diabetes compared to the general population at the given age. Diabetes can be inherited from either mother or father.
The child’s risk increases:
- If the father has type 1 diabetes, the risk of the child developing diabetes is 1 in 17.
- If the mother has type 1 diabetes and:
- The child was born before she is 25 years old, then the risk is 1 in 25.
- The child was born after she is 25 years old, the child’s risk is 1 in 100.
- If the father and mother develop diabetes before the age of 11 years, the child’s risk is between 1 in 10 and 1 in 4, respectively.
- If the person has diabetes along with thyroid disease, poorly working adrenal gland, and immune system disorder, the child's risk of developing type 1 diabetes is 1 in 2.
Even if diabetes run in families, it is possible to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes in children or youth by following a healthy lifestyle.
- If the father has type 2 diabetes, the risk factor is about 30%.
- If the mother has type 2 diabetes, the risk factor is slightly higher.
- If both parents have diabetes, the risk factor increases to about 70%.
Mutation in any gene involved in controlling glucose levels can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, which include genes that control:
- The production of glucose.
- The production and regulation of insulin.
- How glucose levels are sensed in the body.
Genes associated with type 2 diabetes risk include:
- TCF7L2, which affects insulin secretion and glucose production
- ABCC8, which helps regulate insulin
- CAPN10, which is associated with type 2 diabetes risk in Mexican-Americans
- GLUT2, which helps move glucose into the pancreas
- GCGR, a glucagon hormone involved in glucose regulation
Other factors that increase the risk of type 2 diabetes include:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Poor dietary practices
- Elevated blood pressure
- History of gestational diabetes
Lifestyle choices that affect the development of type 2 diabetes include:
- Lack of exercise: Physical activity has several benefits, including reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Unhealthy meal planning choices: A meal high in fat and lacking fiber can increase the probability of type 2 diabetes.
- Obesity: Being overweight increases the likelihood of insulin resistance and can also lead to many other health conditions.
Can the risk of diabetes be reduced?
The risk of inheriting diabetes is inevitable; however, developing diabetes can be prevented by following these methods:
- Lead a healthy lifestyle by maintaining a healthy weight.
- Ensure a balanced diet with proper nutrition.
- Avoid junk foods or fatty foods.
- Exercise daily for 30-40 minutes.
- Limit the intake of alcohol and refrain from tobacco.
- Increasing the intake of some essential minerals, such as magnesium, has shown to decrease the risk of diabetes.
- Monitor the blood sugar level from time to time.
- Be careful when going for the annual eye check-ups.
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Lyssenko V, Groop L, Prasad RB. Genetics of Type 2 Diabetes: It Matters From Which Parent We Inherit the Risk. Rev Diabet Stud. 2015;12(3-4):233-242. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5275752/
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