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My first son (who is now 6) was diagnosed when he was 3. At the hospital the doctors explained to us that juvenile diabetes is inherited. For this reason, my wife and I fear to have another child and are very worried anytime our second child drinks a little more than usual. Based on your experience, and also on the data in your hands, how likely is our second son to become diabetic?

The odds of a child developing diabetes when there is a sibling with diabetes is unclear, but most authorities feel that it is in the general range of five percent. As your physicians have mentioned, there are tests that might help evaluate whether a non-diabetic sibling will get diabetes, but these tests are not very reliable, and the recommendations for what to do with a child with positive tests would be no different than otherwise: eat healthy (same as the diabetic sibling!); stay active; stay thin; check blood sugar levels when acutely ill to see if the level might have gone up from the stress of the illness.

It is our standard recommendation to parents in this situation to plan to have more children if they wish; if the tendency for diabetes were inherited, it's very unlikely to show up for years, and by then, we'll have the results of the DPT-1 study to assist in making treatment decisions: this study is designed to see if diabetes can be prevented in first-degree relatives of people with diabetes.

Original posting 11 Feb 96


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:52
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