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March 6, 2004

Diagnosis and Symptoms, Genetics and Heredity

Question from Brooklyn, New York, USA:

I have twins, a boy and a girl, age seven and a half. Their father has diabetes and leukemia. My children are a little overweight. I do feed them healthy foods and they get a lot of exercise, but they tend to eat in large portions, especially my daughter. Can you please tell me if my children are at risk for diabetes and, if they are, how can I prevent it?


From: DTeam Staff

It’s a little difficult to tell you what the risk of diabetes to the twins might be without knowing what type of diabetes their father has and how much they weigh. If their father has had diabetes since he was a child and has always been on insulin, then their chances of getting type 1 diabetes, too, would be a little over 1:20. It is much more likely though that their father has type 2, for which he may not yet need insulin. This type of diabetes is increasing in childhood all over the whole world. It would be hard to put an exact figure on the risk. But if you can really encourage exercise, avoid fast foods with their high fat content, and keep their weights below 60 pounds, which is the 75th percentile, then I think the risk would be very small. If you and your husband also tend to be overweight and the children are over the 75th percentile, I think you should try to get advice from a pediatric dietitian on how to change the family’s eating pattern, not an easy task!