Understanding the Link Between Diabetes and Genetics - Tamang Alaga
Learn more about the potential link between genetics and a person’s diabetes risk.

Understanding the Link Between Diabetes and Genetics

If any of your relatives have been diagnosed with diabetes, you were likely advised to take care of your health to reduce your risk for this health issue. Genetics may play a role in the onset of diabetes, and the link between the two has been researched for many years now.,

If left unaddressed, type 1 or type 2 diabetes can negatively affect multiple organs and systems in your body. Diabetes may result in the narrowing of blood vessels, decreased blood flow, damage to blood vessels, impaired wound healing ability, onset of pain and numbness in some body parts, reduced effectiveness of the kidneys in disposing waste from the blood, or even blurred vision. Diabetes can also raise your risk for the following health issues:

  • High blood pressure
  • Serious cardiovascular problems
  • Kidney failure
  • Eye problems and vision loss
  • Dry skin, fungal infections, skin tags, and other skin issues
  • Metabolism-related or fertility problems
  • Gastrointestinal problems 

As such, it may be helpful to determine your family’s history for diabetes. Find out more about how diabetes and genetics are interconnected and when you should be screened for it.

How Are Diabetes and Genetics Connected?

Throughout the years, results have shown that multiple genes are linked to either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Mutations of the following genes may be reasons why people struggle with diabetes symptoms:

  • Type 1 diabetes: HLA-DQA1, HLA-DQB1, and HLA-DRB1  
  • Type 2 diabetes: TCF7L2, CAPN10, and ABCC8 

Testing to detect the presence of these genes is actually possible, but is only recommended in research settings, and not advisable to be done routinely.

What Is the Overall Risk for People Whose Relatives Have Diabetes?

This would depend on the type of diabetes concerned. For type 1 diabetes, there is a 5% to 10% chance that you’ll have it by age 20 if your sibling was previously diagnosed.  

Meanwhile, kids whose fathers or mothers have type 1 diabetes are 12% or 6% more likely to be diagnosed with it. However, if both parents have type 1 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association notes that the risk of developing this condition among kids lies between 1 in 10 and 1 in 4 (between 10% to 25%).
For type 2 diabetes, if one parent has this health issue, you have a 40% risk for it. If both parents were diagnosed though, the risk rises to 70%. Moreover, be aware that you are three times more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes if you have first degree relatives who have it. 

Can You Be Screened for Diabetes?

Yes – there are markers that can be checked that will help health professionals determine if you have diabetes or not. If you notice any diabetes symptoms, consult your doctor and ask about diabetes testing. There are multiple diagnostic methods that aim to check for diabetes, namely:,,

  • Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test: Usually done in the morning, an FPG aims to measure blood glucose levels after you complete at least an eight-hour fast. If plasma glucose levels are equal to or above 126 mg/dL (7.0 mmol/L) after fasting overnight, a type 2 diabetes diagnosis can be made.
  • Random plasma glucose (RPG) test: If you are manifesting symptoms of type 2 diabetes, you may be advised to take an RPG test even if you have not fasted. If RPG test readings are equal or above 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) and symptoms of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) like nausea, vomiting, increased thirst, fatigue, and/or headaches manifest, a diabetes diagnosis can be made.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT): This test, which can also be recommended for pregnant women to test for gestational diabetes, is also done after an eight-hour fast. It involves two key steps. The first would be blood extraction that’ll be done by a health professional.

    Afterwards, you will have to drink a liquid containing glucose. Your blood sugar levels will then be tested from time to time for at least two hours after. Just like with RPG tests, if your result is equal to or above 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L), a diabetes diagnosis can be made.

An important reminder: any of these testing methods should always be done under the supervision of a doctor or healthcare professional. Refrain from self-diagnosing your current condition.

Once a doctor makes a diabetes diagnosis, you may be advised to take prescription medicines like insulin and/or oral medicines, that can help you address this condition better

If you have additional concerns about the potential link between diabetes and your family history, consult a physician immediately. They can help you assess where you are right now and see how you can address it better. However, if diabetes symptoms already manifest, seek medical attention right away.

















https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyperglycemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20373631 https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317483