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March 4, 2001

Genetics and Heredity

Question from Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, USA:

Four months ago, my three year old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and I have a few questions: Is this diagnosis common at such an early age? No one in my family has it and the only person on my husband's side to have it is his grandfather. Is it possible to skip my husband and his mother and hit my son? Is it likely that my husband could still get it since he is only 27? I have a four month old baby boy. When should I be concerned about him getting it? Is it likely that he will get it at an early age also?

Answer:

It is not unusual for a three year old to develop diabetes, and it is often the first sign of diabetes in the family. Although diabetes is more common in families, having one person with diabetes increases the chance of any other person in the family getting diabetes by 2 to 3 times that of to the normal population. The chances of your younger child having diabetes is therefore only slightly higher than the normal population.

JS