By: Dr. Syeda Arzinda Fatima


If one of your parents have diabetes, what is your chance of getting diabetes? If one of your siblings has diabetes, what is your risk of getting diabetes? When a diabetic girl is getting married, she is worried if she will transmit the disease in her children?

The genetics of diabetes is a bit complicated,even identical twins who share the same genes  but researchers have generalized certain factors.

Type 1 genetic risk:

If the father has type 1 diabetes, there is 1 in 17 chance of the child having diabetes. If the mother has diabetes, there is 1 in 25 chance of having diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is not exactly hereditary, it is an autoimmune disease,the body’s immune cells start to react against the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. It may occur alone or in association with other autoimmune diseases like thyroid disease, addisons disease. This combination is known as polyglandular syndrome.

There maybe some environmental triggers as well, for example a viral illness in childhood may trigger the onset of diabetes type 1, sometimescold weather also triggers diabetes genes. Type 1 diabetes is less likely to develop in breast fed children.

The risk of developing type 1 diabetes can be determined by genetic studies and blood test to detect antibodies against pancreatic cells .genes HLA-DR3 and HLA-DR 4 are more likely to develop diabetes. There are also some racial differences, type 1diabetes is more common in white races.

Type 2 genetic risk:

Type 2 diabetes is more likely to be inherited in your genes. There is 1 in 7 to 1 in 13 depending on whether parent was diagnosed before age 50 years or after that. If mother is diabetic there is more chance of having diabetes in the children. If both parents are diabetic, there is 1 in 2 chance of having diabetes in children.

Type 2 diabetes runs in families. Apart from genes there may be environmental factors like bad eating habits in the whole family, or obesity in the whole family, and lack of exercise in parents leads to same sedentary lifestyle in their children.

MODY (Maturity onset diabetes of the young)

This is a rarae form oftype 2 diabetes that occurs in young age 20-25 years, it has strong genetic predisposition, there is 1 in 2 chance of having MODY if your parent has it.