True or False: Does Diabetes Run in Families?

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In Utah, about 10.4% of the adult population have either diabetes or prediabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). That’s about 200,000 people.

Diabetes is a common chronic disease that can have severe and even deadly consequences. Non-treatment or non-management will increase the risk of chronic kidney disease, blindness, and heart disease. The question is, how do you develop it? Is it true that it’s hereditary or genetic?

What the Studies Suggest

Some types of research point out the genetic risk of diabetes. It can run in families. Type 1 diabetes, for example, is more common among whites. ADA further revealed that the odds of developing the disease depend on whose parent has it.

If it’s the father, the chances are 1:17. When it’s the mother, it’s lower at 1:25. Even the age of the mom can affect the genetic risk. It would be 1:100 if the mother gave birth after 25 years old.

Then there’s the study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2007. The researchers assessed their participants for six years between 1999 and 2004. Among the thousands of participants, around 7.5% had a high familial risk of the disease. Most had an average risk.

But the prevalence of diabetes within the family was significant among the high-risk group. It was 30%.

Environmental Factors Are at Play

healthy food and execise equipment

No doubt, families with a history of diabetes should undergo regular blood sugar screening. In Orem, a family medical team can help with that. Having a bloodline of diabetics doesn’t immediately mean the others will develop the disease. More studies cite how the environment plays a more significant role.

In the United States, over 30 million people have diabetes. More than 80% of them have type 2 diabetes. This is a metabolic disease that tends to develop due to lifestyle factors. These include:

  • Excessive consumption of sugar
  • Lack of adequate and quality sleep
  • High stress levels
  • Sedentary living
  • Lack of exercise
  • Hormone imbalance

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is also high among communities with poor access to healthy food.

A study in 2006 wanted to show the association between having low income and the prevalence of diabetes. The incidence of diabetes was high among low-income families. These were households earning between less than $42,000 and $54,000.

The prevalence rate went down as soon as the income hit $64,000. It was the lowest for families who earned around $81,000. Some experts also believe diabetes can run in families due to the environment.

For example, the children might eat the same food the parents consume. They can also adopt the same lifestyle, which might be less exercise and longer sitting duration.

Some parents with diabetes might not stick to their treatment plan, foregoing seeing their doctors or taking their medications. Parents even have a significant influence and role in childhood obesity, which raises the odds of premature diabetes.

The truth is diabetes is a complex disease. It can even run in families. While some children will eventually develop diabetes, others won’t. In many cases, it’s all about susceptibility. As long as the individual learns to avoid or control the risk factors, the chances of developing diabetes remain low.