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January 2, 2001

Genetics and Heredity

Question from Bay Minette, Alabama, USA:

My father was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was five. I had heard the myth about diabetes skipping a generation and am worried about my two year old son. After reading some of the questions and answers listed, I now know that I do not have to be as worried. However, when I expressed my concerns to my son's doctor, he told me that type 1 diabetes was not hereditary and they thought it was linked more to a viral infection. Is this true? Should I still ask him to test my son, if nothing more than to allay my fears? Is there any way for me to test his urine myself? It's not just me that is worried. My mother and aunt both seem a bit paranoid that my son may inherit this dreaded disease.

Answer:

There are many factors that may be involved with getting diabetes including hereditary and environmental factors. No one yet knows exactly what causes diabetes. Testing for diabetes is inexpensive and can be done through your son’s pediatrician’s office.

MSB