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October 2, 1999

Genetics and Heredity

Question from Bombay, Mahashtra, India:

I would like to ask a question about the risk of getting diabetes in future children. My grandmother and father have diabetes. Also the father of my to be wife has diabetes. As of now both of us do not have diabetes. Does this family history of diabetes in my family and my to-be wife's family can mean a higher risk of diabetes in our children? Will the risk be less if I marry someone who has no family history of diabetes?


Your father and your prospective wife’s father almost certainly have what is called Type 2 diabetes. Although this does have a variable genetic component, its nature has really not yet been worked out even for Europe and North America: this means that it is not possible to make any precise estimate as to what the risk of diabetes might be in any children. I talked to a Professor of Endocrinology from Chandigar about your question and he knew of no detailed reports. Having said this, I believe the risks of diabetes in your children would be small and would not warrant any change in your plans.