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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?


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.