No parent wants their child to experience undue adversity or stress, and the challenges of diabetes are no exception. If you have diabetes and are thinking of starting a family, you may have questions about the likelihood of passing diabetes on to your children. But how much of having diabetes is genetic? If you have diabetes – type 1 or type 2 – will your children, too? Can you pass diabetes down to your biological children, the same way you can with other traits like hair and eye color?
The answer is complicated, but it comes down to how strongly genetic inheritance – the genes we get from our parents – influences our health.
While a person’s genes absolutely influence their health, so does the environment. A person can be genetically predisposed to developing type 1 diabetes, but it is widely believed that an environmental factor is needed to trigger its onset. In type 2 diabetes (T2D) it is clear that both genetics and environment play a role.
Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY) is a less common type of diabetes that is strongly genetic – it is caused by a mutation in one gene, usually passed down from parent to child. In this case, a person’s genetics may contribute to the development of diabetes more than their environment.
>>If the mother has type 1 diabetes; The child has a 1 to 3 percent chance of getting type 1 diabetes.
>>If the father has type 1 diabetes; The child has a 3 to 6 percent chance of getting type 1 diabetes.
>>If either parent gets type 2 diabetes after age 50; The child has a 7 percent chance of getting diabetes.
>>If either parent gets type 2 diabetes before age 50; The child has a 14 percent chance of getting diabetes.