New study reveals the risk of developing prediabetes if there is a family history

by Barbara Hewitt on August 23, 2013

New study reveals the risk of developing prediabetes if there is a family history

New study reveals the risk of developing prediabetes if there is a family history

The risk of developing pre-diabetes is increased by 26% for people with a family history of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study. Researchers from the German Centre for Diabetes Research looked at over 8,000 people to try to find out how family history affects the likelihood of developing the condition.

Prediabetes, most often described as the state between normal blood sugar control and full diabetes, can take two forms. The first is impaired fasting glycaemia (IFG), whereby levels of glucose in the fast state are higher than normal but not high enough to be classed as diabetes. The second is impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), where blood sugar levels are abnormal due to increased insulin resistance. It is estimated that prediabetes progresses to full blown diabetes in up to 20% of individuals affected per year. While it is known that a family history of type 2 diabetes increases the risk of full blown diabetes, research has not yet explored whether such a family history increases the risk of prediabetes in either form.

The research, published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, was led by Dr Andreas Fritsche and analysed 8,106 non-diabetic individuals of European origin. In the study group 5,482 had normal glucose tolerance, and 2,624 had IFG and/or IGT. The team analysed whether having at least one first degree relative with diabetes is associated with prediabetes.

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A family history of diabetes was found to increase the crude, unadjusted risk for prediabetes, IFG and/or IGT, by 40%. This increased risk fell to 26% when the analysis took account of age, sex, and the BMI of participants. When different types of prediabetes were considered, family history increased the risk of isolated IFG by 37%, of isolated IGT by 25%, and the two combined by 64%. However overall, when adjusted for BMI, the association between family history and prediabetes was seen only in non-obese individuals.

‘Our data suggests that a family history of diabetes is associated with prediabetes in non-obese rather than in obese individuals. This might indicate the effect of family history on prediabetes becomes readily measurable only when not overshadowed by strong risk factors such as obesity,’ the study report says. ‘We found that family history is an important risk factor for prediabetes, especially for combined IGT and IFG. Its relevance seems to be more evident in the non-obese,’ it concludes.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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