Genetics and Diabetes: What’s The Relation?
According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017, 30.3 million people in the US have diabetes. With so many people with this condition, is it possible that genes have a role to play in the disease? Unfortunately, the answer cannot be a single ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Experts agree that a combination of genetic and environmental factors are responsible for making a person more prone to getting diabetes. While genes do play a vital role, holding them alone responsible would be just half the story. A great way to learn more about the complexities involved is enhancing your knowledge about the disease. Learn quick facts about diabetes in this infographic
Diabetes and Its Types
You might already know that a diabetic patient has higher blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, level in his/ her body. However, it might help to understand why that happens. All of us need energy to function. This energy comes from blood glucose that we get from the food we eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, is responsible for breaking down this glucose and making it available to the cells so that they can use it for energy. However, sometimes, our body makes very little to no insulin which is not enough to break down the glucose, which then stays in the blood instead of reaching the cells. This is what happens when a person has diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease. This means that the body destroys the cells that produce insulin. Quite obviously, anybody with a Type 1 Diabetes does not produce insulin at all. This is a problem since we need insulin to make energy. That is why a person diagnosed with this condition must take insulin every day.
The American Diabetes Association states that only 5 to 10 percent of all the diagnosed diabetes cases account for Type 1. While it makes the condition less common than Type 2, it is also one of the most common chronic diseases that affect the American children and teens.
Is Type 1 diabetes hereditary?
For many years, experts believed that it is but new researches do not agree. Although it is true that the genetic makeup might predispose you to diabetes, you cannot say it with certainty that you will get Type 1 diabetes just because your parents had it or that your kids will inherit it if you are diabetic. Even in case of identical twins (that is, people who have the exact genes) sometimes one gets a Type 1 diabetes while the other does not. Environmental factors also play a very big role in determining if a person prone to diabetes will actually have it. For instance, people living in cooler areas are more prone to get Type 1 diabetes. Cold weather also acts as a trigger. Certain viruses such as mumps, rotavirus, measles, and Coxsackie B virus have also been linked to activating Type 1 diabetes among people who are already vulnerable to the disease.
In this diabetes type, the body does not produce or use insulin very well. Patients need medication to keep diabetes under control. It is the most common diabetes type. Although one can develop Type 2 diabetes any time, even during childhood, it is more common among middle-aged and older people.
Is Type 2 diabetes hereditary?
Family history might play a role, but there are other important factors involved such as weight, age, and health problems such as high blood pressure. A person with prediabetes or gestational diabetes is also more prone to developing Type 2 diabetes.
Pregnancy triggers diabetes in some women. This is known as gestational diabetes. Usually, gestational diabetes goes away once the baby is born. However, it might indicate the probability of developing Type 2 diabetes later on.
Is gestational diabetes genetic?
While it is unclear why some women develop gestational diabetes while others do not, experts believe that a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors are responsible for it. Women with gestational diabetes usually give birth to normal healthy babies; however, her diabetes should be very closely monitored. Sometimes, the baby might become too big. Since an unborn child gets all the nutrients from the mother’s blood, it may store the extra sugar as fat and hence grow in size. There could be some other complications in the baby such as pre-term birth, low blood sugar and mineral levels, temporary breathing problem, and jaundice. A baby born to a mother with gestational diabetes also has a higher chance of becoming obese and developing diabetes later on in life.
If you or someone in your family have diabetes or wonder if you are at a high risk of developing the disease, we at Florida Wellness can help. Contact us for the proper tests, treatment plans, and lifestyle suggestions. One of the essential things about diabetes management is learning more about the disease. Stay aware, follow the right treatment plans, and live healthy.