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January 9, 2001

Genetics and Heredity

Question from Richmond, Virginia, USA:

My husband was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 20 years ago. Our 12 year old son was diagnosed three years ago, and I found out that our 16 year old nephew (on my husband's side) was just diagnosed. I realize that there is some genetic component, but I'm surprised that so many family members have now been diagnosed. Is this unusual?

Answer:

No, not really. Probably somewhere between 30 and 50% of the contribution to type 1 diabetes is genetic. However, most new patients (9 out of 10) have no family history at diagnosis.

KJR