1 diabetes affects
700,000 people in the United States and is the most
common chronic metabolic
disorder to affect children. It is most common in Caucasian
populations, especially those in Scandinavia,
and rare in people of Asian or African descent. Type
1 diabetes is less common than Type 2 diabetes, accounting
for only five to ten percent of all cases.
of 100 people with Type 1 diabetes, 80 have no family
members with the disease. The remaining 20 people have
at least one family member with diabetes. Although most
people in the population have a 0.4 percent chance of
developing Type 1 diabetes, the risk increases to about
two percent if your mother has diabetes and six percent
if your father or siblings
have Type 1 diabetes. If your sibling with diabetes
is a fraternal twin your risk increases to 11 percent
and it increases to roughly 50 percent if your identical
twin has diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes can run in families, researchers have
looked for genes
that increase a person's risk for developing the disease.
So far, they have found roughly 20 different areas on
that may contribute in varying degrees to a person's
chances of developing Type 1 diabetes. No one gene,
however, determines if Type 1 diabetes will develop
or can be used to predict the development of Type 1
researchers have found gene mutations
that increase the risk of developing Type 1 diabetes,
these genes alone do not cause the disease. There must
be a combination of genetic risk and environmental factors
to trigger diabetes. When
scientists look at identical twins twins who
share all of their genes they find that if one
twin has Type 1 diabetes, the other twin has roughly
50 percent chance of developing the disease. This means
that half of the twins who are genetically at risk do
not develop diabetes. Therefore, there must be other,
nongenetic factors that play a role in diabetes onset.
aren't sure what environmental factors trigger Type
1 diabetes. Some studies have suggested that drinking
cow's milk might increase the
risk of developing Type 1 diabetes in people with a
genetic risk for the disease.
cow's milk and exposure to some viruses might trigger
Type 1 diabetes in susceptible people
However, these studies are not conclusive. Some doctors recommend breast feeding at-risk children and limiting their intake of cow's milk. Certain types of viral infections particularly coxsackie B, rubella, and mumps are also associated with developing Type 1 diabetes in some people. Some researchers think that the virus triggers an immune reaction against the islet cells or in rare cases directly infects and kills these cells. (
For addition factors that may increase diabetes risk, see Related News below.)
there is little that can be done to prevent the disease,
the American Diabetes Association does not recommend
screening children for Type 1 diabetes unless:
a child meets these criteria, doctors screen for antibodies
to insulin or beta cells. The antibodies indicate a very
high risk for developing Type 1 diabetes and can be present
up to eight years before symptoms develop.
child has a parent or sibling with Type 1 diabetes,
The child is going to enter a scientific study that
requires these results.
R., M., et al., (1999). Prevalence and Incidence of
Insulin-Dependent Diabetes. In (Ed. 2nd), Diabetes in
America (pp. 37-14). Bethesda, MD: National Diabetes
Data Group, NIH.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestion and Kidney
Diseases (1999). Diabetes Statistics. Bethesda, MD:
National Institutes of Health. Publication No. 99-3892.
Dorman, J., et al., (1999). Risk Factors for Insulin-Dependent
Diabetes. In Diabetes in America (pp. 165-178). Bethesda,
MD: National Diabetes Data Group, NIH.
Scott, F. W. (1990). Cow milk and insulin-dependent
diabetes mellitus: is there a relationship? Am J
Clin Nutr, 51, 489-91.
Wagenknecht, L. E., et al. (1991). Increased incidence
of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus following an
epidemic of Coxsackievirus B5. Am J Epidemiol,
Kyvik, K. O., et al. (1995). Concordance rates of insulin
dependent diabetes mellitus: a population based study
of young Danish twins [see comments]. Bmj, 311,