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Is Type 1 Diabetes Genetic?

Published on: Oct 27, 2022
4 min Read
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Is Type 1 Diabetes Genetic?

While various reasons could lead to diabetes in a person, some factors such as genetics and hereditary factors may also have a key role to play in leading up to type 1 diabetes. 

Is Type 1 Diabetes Hereditary From Mother or Father?

In most cases of type 1 diabetes, the person who has it needs to inherit the risk factors from both the parents, that is, both mother and father. 

The risk of type 1 diabetes passing on to the child from the mother and father are as follows:

  • If you are the genetic father and have type 1 diabetes, the chances of your child developing diabetes are 1 in 17.
  • If you are the genetic mother and have type 1 diabetes, and give birth before you are 25 years old, the chances of your child developing diabetes are 1 in 25. If you give or gave birth after you turned 25, this risk will be 1 in 100.  

Other diabetes hereditary chances

  • If you developed diabetes before you turned 11 years old, these risks for your child will be doubled.
  • Also, if both parents have type 1 diabetes, the risk of the child developing type 1 diabetes will be 1 in 10 and 1 in 4. 

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What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a type of condition in which the blood sugar levels are abnormally high. This is a chronic condition and may sometimes also be called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. 

  1. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas can only make very little insulin or is unable to make any insulin at all.
  2. In most cases, type 1 diabetes is usually caused by various factors such as genetics, diabetes genes as well as some types of viruses. 
  3. At the moment there is no known cure for type 1 diabetes, but certain lifestyle changes can help manage it better. 
  4. While type 1 diabetes usually develops during childhood or adolescence, some adults may also develop type 1 diabetes. 

How Does Genetics Cause Type 1 Diabetes?

There is no particular type of gene that will for sure lead to type 1 diabetes. There is a mix of different genetic factors that could end up leading to type 1 diabetes. 

  1. The HLA genes are the biggest deciding or contributing factor when it comes to giving a person type 1 diabetes.
  2. HLA genes are the human leukocyte antigens that help to code protein which then differentiate between the self and the nonself.
  3. The HLA genes are essential in forming immune and disease defenses in a person’s body. 
  4. The proteins that are made by the HLA genes are used by your immune system to keep them healthy and fight any disease.
  5. Type 1 diabetes is a type of autoimmune disorder in which the body destroys those cells that are needed to make insulin. 

What Percentage of Type 1 Diabetes is Hereditary?

While type 1 diabetes is usually passed on through generations in families, scientists and researchers are still not sure about the exact numbers or percentage of the inheritance pattern.

At What Age Does Type 1 Diabetes Occur?

Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, but in most cases, it occurs during childhood, in children between the ages of 4 and 7 years old, as well as in adolescents when the child is between 10 and 14 years of age. 

If you have type 1 diabetes, there is likely no sure cure for the same, but you can formulate a diabetes management program with your diabetes healthcare team.

Here are a few things you can keep in mind that will help you manage type 1 diabetes better: 

  1. Type 1 diabetes will not usually come up with sudden signs and symptoms, and usually there may, not be very visual or noticeable signs and symptoms for at least the first days, weeks, or even months.
  2. If you notice any new signs and symptoms in your body, or if you feel uncomfortable or unwell for any reason, do not guess or make assumptions. Get yourself tested by your healthcare professional.
  3. Regularly monitor your blood glucose levels. The goal will be to try and keep the blood glucose levels within the range as recommended by your doctor. Usually, before meals, the range of blood glucose levels should be between 80 and 130 mg/dL. After your meals, this range should be lower than 180 mg/dL till two hours after taking your meal.   
  4. Talk to your family members and find out if anyone in your immediate family has had type 1 diabetes. If they do or did, inform your doctor about the same.
  5. In many cases, your doctor may suggest a simple blood test that can help find out if you have type 1 diabetes. 
  6. In case your blood test result comes back with a type 1 diabetes diagnosis, your doctor may ask for another blood test for autoantibodies. This will show if your body is attacking itself. 
  7. In addition to your regular doctor, it is important that you also pay attention to your eyes, feet, limbs, nerves, muscles, bones, kidneys, and liver. Speak to your doctor and ask for tests that will help to understand the health of these organs and parts of the body. 

Your doctor may also suggest some ways of better managing type 1 diabetes by taking insulin, regularly monitoring your blood sugar levels, counting the number of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats you eat, suggesting a healthy nutritious diet, and advising regular exercise. 

Remember that even though type 1 diabetes does not yet have a definite cure, it can be managed by listening to your doctor’s suggestions and recommendations. 


This blog provides general information for educational and informational purposes only and shouldn't be seen as professional advice.

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