Children of Diabetes Parents More Likely to Develop Type 1 Diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on May 1, 2015

Children of parents with any type of diabetes are more likely to develop type 1 diabetes, according to a new study of more than 1.2 million children in Sweden.

It also found that mothers being overweight and obesity increases the risk of the child developing type 1 diabetes when neither parent has diabetes.

hThe study concludes that strategies to reduce overweight and obesity before and during pregnancy could reduce the incidence of type 1 diabetes which is currently increasing in children, and especially in younger children, in most countries of the world.

The research by Associate Professor Tahereh Moradi and his team at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, examined data for 1,263,358 children born in Sweden between 1992 and 2004.

Children were followed from birth until diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and body mass index (BMI) was calculated for the first trimester of the mother’s pregnancy.

A total of 5,771 children were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes during the study period. Of those, 5,155 children had both parents born inside Nordic countries, including Sweden, and 322 had both parents born outside Nordic countries, and a further 294 had one parent born in a Nordic country and the other born outside.

Risk of type 1 diabetes was increased in offspring of parents with any type of diabetes regardless of parental ethnicity. In Nordic families, for which there was most data, having a father with any type of diabetes increased the risk of type 1 diabetes in the child by five times, while having a mother with any type of diabetes increased the risk of type 1 diabetes in the child by around three times.

High first trimester maternal BMI was associated with a 33% increased risk of type 1 diabetes only in offspring of parents without diabetes when compared with maternal BMI in the normal range.

‘The finding that first trimester maternal obesity was a risk factor for type 1 diabetes only in offspring of parents without diabetes, and that maternal obesity caused no extra risk in offspring of parents with diabetes, clearly suggests that heredity for type 1 diabetes is the strongest risk factor of the two for development of type 1 diabetes in the next generation,’ the study says.

‘This population based study demonstrates significantly increased risks of type 1 diabetes in offspring of both mothers and fathers with diabetes and regardless of parental migration background. The highest risks were noted in offspring of mothers and fathers with type 1 diabetes,’ it explains.

‘Furthermore, maternal overweight and obesity in early pregnancy was associated with increased risk of type 1 diabetes in the offspring of parents without diabetes. Therefore prevention of overweight and obesity in women of reproductive age, currently increasing in all countries, may contribute to a decreased incidence of type 1 diabetes,’ it concludes.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com 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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