Will My Children Also Have Type 1 Diabetes?

Don’t worry family; I am not pregnant, and there is no way I’d let you find out this way!

But honestly, I do have a lot of fears about being pregnant and having type 1 diabetes. My endocrinologist suggested I get my hemoglobin A1c under 6.5% before we even try. I have achieved that goal about 6 months back, with my last A1c being 6.2%, and my doctor was very pleased. But, that is not the point!

I still have fears about much life can change. Are we really ready to handle how much life will change? How will I manage my blood sugars while having an infant? Will I be able to keep my blood sugars in a “good enough” range while breastfeeding? If I have a bad blood sugar for a few days, could I possibly loose the baby altogether? If my A1c doesn’t get better/lower, will I have a huge baby? or will they have to stay in the hospital because of low blood sugars?  Will me having type 1 diabetes mean that I could easily pass it onto my future children?

Will My Children Also Have Type 1 Diabetes? | www.IAmAType1Diabetic.com

I don’t mind being a diabetic. It’s just another part of my story. But, I want my children to live long, healthy lives, and I do not want to have to battle with their bad blood sugars too. It is a struggle, and I would feel horrible passing the same burden onto my children! I started looking around for some answers. The American Diabetes Association had a great article on the probability of a type 1 diabetic passing along the gene to their children.

According to the American Diabetes Association, genes alone are not enough to determine whether or not you’ll pass type 1 diabetes onto your children. You only inherit a predisposition to the disease, then something in your environment triggers it (e.g. stress in my case, an illness etc.) “Identical twins have identical genes. Yet when one twin has type 1 diabetes, the other gets the disease at most only half the time.”

In most cases of type 1 diabetes, people need to inherit risk factors from both parents. I guess I am an odd man out being that neither of my parents or close relatives ever had type 1 diabetes. I was the first, and hopefully the only, type 1 diabetic in my family. My late grandfather had type 2 diabetes, but if you’ve read my blog long enough you’d know, type 1 and type 2 diabetes are MUCH different! (Type 2 diabetes has a stronger link to family history and lineage than type 1, although it too depends on environmental factors.)

What are the actual statistics of passing that risk gene on to your children? There are several types of variables: age of diagnosis, age during pregnancy, sex, and ethnicity. Men with type 1 diabetes have a higher risk of having children with diabetes (1 in 17). For women, probabilities vary based on when you got pregnant: having a child before the age of 25 gives you a higher risk of having a baby with diabetes (1 in 25). Thankfully, I am 27 years old and don’t have to worry about that statistic! But you are still at risk even if you have a baby after the age of 25 (1 in 100). Your child’s risk is doubled if you developed diabetes before age 11. If both you and your partner have type 1 diabetes, the risk is between 1 in 10 and 1 in 4. White people also have a higher chance of developing type 1 diabetes.

According to these statistics, it appears that I have about a 1 in 50 percent chance of my child actually developing type 1 diabetes. I was diagnosed before the age of 11, which unfortunately doubled my 1 in 100 risk. I feel much better knowing that those are my statistics, and I feel like I can manage that uncomfortable, uneasy feeling I had at the beginning of this post.

I have come to terms with the fact that I have type 1 diabetes. I am used to the finger pricks, insulin pump changes, CGM alarms, carb counting, high costs of supplies, the highs, the lows, and everything else that I go through on a daily basis.

I applaud all the parents out there who have had children with t1d. It terrifies me to think of my child(ren) having to live with type 1 diabetes. And if I had to learn about diabetes without being a t1d myself, phew! You are some really strong people.