The Genetic Link with Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1

A person with type 1 diabetes has white blood cells that attack islets, cells that produce insulin, because they read them as a foreign substance per the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, DRIF (DRIF, 2016). This is a rare disorder that mainly happens inside of Caucasians. Only about 5% of people with diabetes have type 1. Since this is also known as juvenile diabetes, many people wonder if it is caused by genetics.

According the American Diabetes Association, ADA, children must inherit risks from their mother and father (ADA, 2017). However, most people that are at risk for type 1 diabetes never develop it. Scientists are currently researching on environmental factors that trigger the development of the disease.

There are several different factors that could possibly be linked. Type 1 diabetes is more common in colder climates. There are more cases that are reported during the winter than other months (ADA, 2017). So, temperature could very well be a factor.

A child’s diet at a young age is also being examined. People who are breastfed are less likely to develop type 1 diabetes (ADA, 2017). Viruses can also trigger type 1 diabetes, even if the virus is mild in most cases.

The development of type 1 diabetes normally take several years. Per the ADA, “In experiments that followed relatives of people with type 1 diabetes, researchers found that most of those who later got diabetes had certain autoantibodies in their blood for years before” (ADA, 2017). Autoantibodies are antibodies that have started attacking good cells and tissues in the body.

Genetics does play a role inside of the development of type 1 diabetes. However, it cannot be the only factor since people who are at risk normally do not develop the disease. There must be some environmental factors that set it off.

If type 1 diabetes not completely genetic, then what are some things that a person can do to make sure that their child does not develop it? Making sure that your child is eating a healthy diet is a great idea. Due to the research from the ADA, breastfeeding would be recommended for your child.

If your child becomes sick, it is best to seek medical help. Since some viruses can trigger type 1 diabetes, it is important to have your child checked, especially if you know they are at risk for developing the disease.

Limiting the amounts of trans fats and the sodium intake of your child should help as well. Not only that, changing your diet and exercising will lower your risk for type 2 diabetes.

In conclusion, genetics undeniably plays a role in the development of type 1 diabetes. However, it is not the deciding factor. Although there is not certain evidence of the possible environmental causes, studies show that colder climates, diet, and viruses can all trigger the start. Asking your doctor questions about type 1 diabetes will help you stay educated on what will be best for your child.


American Diabetes Association. (2016). Genetics of diabetes. American Diabetes Association. Retrieved from

Diabetes Research Institute Foundation. (2016). What is type 1 diabetes?. Diabetes Research Institute Foundation. Retrieved from