What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that affects the body’s
ability to use blood sugar for energy. The three types are type 1, type 2 and
Doctors usually diagnose type 1 diabetes in
childhood. Type 1 diabetes affects the body’s ability to produce insulin. This
hormone is vital to helping the body utilize blood sugar. Without enough
insulin, the extra blood sugar can damage the body. According to the
American Diabetes Association, 5
percent of all people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is a condition that affects a
body’s ability to use insulin properly. Unlike type 1 diabetes, people with
type 2 diabetes make some insulin, but they cannot make enough to keep up with
rising blood sugar levels. Doctors associate type 2 diabetes with
lifestyle-related factors like obesity.
Gestational diabetes is a condition that causes
women to have very high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. This condition is
Having risk factors does not mean that someone will
What Genetic Factors Affect Diabetes Risk?
Doctors don’t know the exact
cause of type 1 diabetes. Family history of type 1 diabetes is considered a
risk factor. According to the American Diabetes
Association, a man with type 1 diabetes has a 1 in 17 risk for a child
developing type 1 diabetes. If a woman has type 1 diabetes, her child has a 1
in 25 risk if the child was born when the woman was younger than 25. Women with
type 1 diabetes who give birth at age 25 or older have a 1 in 100 risk of
giving birth to a child with type 1 diabetes.
Having a parent with type 2
diabetes also increases diabetes risk. Because diabetes is often related to
lifestyle choices, parents may pass on poor health habits to their children.
This increases risk for getting types 2 diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes
Association, a child with both parents that have type 2 diabetes has a 1 in
2 chance of getting type 2 diabetes. Children with one parent that has type 2
diabetes diagnosed before age 50 has a 1 in 7 chance of getting diabetes.
People of certain ethnicities are
also at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. This includes:
- African Americans
- American Indians
- Asian Americans
- Pacific Islanders
- Hispanic Americans/Latinos
Women have an increased risk for
gestational diabetes if they have a close family member who has diabetes.
What Environmental Factors Affect Diabetes
A virus (type unknown) at an early age may trigger type 1
diabetes in some individuals. People are also more likely to have type 1
diabetes if they live in a cold climate. Doctors also diagnose patients with
type 1 diabetes in the winter more often than the summer.
What Lifestyle Factors Affect Diabetes Risk?
Type 1 diabetes may have some diet-related
factors. According to the
American Diabetes Association,
babies who were not breastfed are at an increased risk for diabetes. The same
is true for babies that given solid foods at an early age.
Type 2 diabetes is often lifestyle-related.
Lifestyle factors that increase risk include:
- physical inactivity
- unhealthy diet
According to the
American Academy of Family Physicians, obesity is the single greatest risk
factor for type 2 diabetes.
What Medical Conditions Affect Diabetes Risk?
People are more likely to
experience type 2 diabetes if they have the following conditions:
- acanthosis nigricans, a skin condition that
makes the skin appear darker than usual
- hypertension (high blood pressure) greater than
- high cholesterol greater
- polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- prediabetes or blood sugar levels that are
higher than normal, but not at diabetes levels
- triglyceride levels that are 250 or greater
Women with gestational diabetes
that give birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more are at greater risk for
developing type 2 diabetes.
What Age-Related Factors Affect Diabetes Risk?
People are more likely to get diabetes as they age. According
American Diabetes Association, an estimated 27 percent of United States
citizens age 65 and older have diabetes.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults ages 45
and older get a diabetes test. This is especially true if a person is
What Are Misconceptions Related to Diabetes
A common misconception about diabetes is that vaccines cause
diabetes. According to the CDC, there is no
evidence to support this claim.