Causes and Risk Factors for Diabetes

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by Dr. John Anne

The causes of diabetes are still not fully understood. Neither are medical scientists able to explain why some people develop diabetes and others don't. Certain factors have, however, been clearly identified that contribute to the development of diabetes.

Is Diabetes Inherited?
Heredity is a major factor. That diabetes can be inherited has been known for centuries. However, the pattern of inheritance is not fully understood. Statistic indicates that those with a family history of the disease have a higher risk of developing diabetes than those without such a background. The risk factor is 25 to 33 percent more.

Children are most likely to develop diabetes if either or both parents are diabetic or if the expectant mother became diabetic. This may not always be true.

It is, however, essential that the blood sugar level of an expectant mother who is diabetic be maintained within the normal range, so that diabetes is not passed on to her child. It the blood sugar level is kept under control, the infant may not have any symptoms of inherited diabetes, but a risk factor cannot be ruled out.

One reason why diabetes, especially Type 2 diabetes runs in the family is because of the diabetes gene. But even it is caused by genetic factors beyond your control; there is no reason to suffer from it. Diabetes mellitus cannot be cured in full sense of the term, but it can be effectively controlled.

Intensive genetic research is currently underway to identify genes associated with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. In a study sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases the relatives of diabetics who are at risk of developing Type 1 diabetes are being treated with low doses of either insulin or an oral medication to determine if drugs may prevent the disease.