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June 15, 2007

Genetics and Heredity, Pregnancy

Question from San Diego, California, USA:

I have had type 1 for 20 years. I have no complications to date. I had my first child last year. He is now 14 months old. Despite being high risk, I had a very healthy pregnancy without complications and my son is perfectly healthy. I never seem to get a clear answer from my doctors about my following questions: What are the chances of my son getting type 1? Is it safe for me to go through another pregnancy given the amount of time I have had diabetes? Will this advance complications in the future?

Answer:

Diabetes is a result of both genetic predisposition (it can run in the family) and environmental factors such as diet and some other medical conditions. There is also data demonstrating that children of mothers with diabetes are at higher of developing diabetes themselves. This may be related to in utero exposure to hyperglycemia. However, it is not an absolute. Predicting that risk is difficult. One publication suggested a 7 to 20 fold increased risk from the general population. However, that number may not necessarily apply to your situation since many other factors come into play. You may want to speak with your endocrinologists about any studies going on in your area that are looking at predicators and/or prevention of diabetes in children.

In terms of a future pregnancy, if you are in good glucose control and have no related complications of diabetes (retinal or kidney problems), then you should do well. Most complications of diabetes are not accelerated by pregnancy as long as you are keeping good control of your blood sugars and maintaining yourself in good health.

OWJ