There is debate about whether diabetes is genetic, hereditary or both. When a condition is referred to as genetic it essentially means that it can be inherited through genes passed from one generation to another, or can develop because of exposure to certain environmental factors that damage genes. Whereas if it’s hereditary, it means it’s passed on from one generation to the other.
While at times there are hereditary elements to diabetes, there are also genetic elements when it comes to diabetes as there are specific genes associated with the condition.
Is prediabetes genetic?
Prediabetes can develop due to a genetic predisposition and is impacted by lifestyle factors.
Prediabetes may be described as hereditary because those who are living with prediabetes may inherit a predisposition to develop prediabetes, due to familial circumstances and their environment, however no specific “pre-diabetes gene” has been discovered yet.
Prediabetes is described as a state during which blood glucose levels are higher than they should be, over a prolonged period of time.
While some could argue that prediabetes is hereditary, because poor diet and low levels of activity can run in the family, there is no research to strictly suggest that people who have prediabetes carry a particular gene that causes the condition.
See also: What is Prediabetes?
Is type 1 diabetes genetic?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition, impacted by genetics, it can be hereditary.
According to the American Diabetes Association: “If you are a man with type 1 diabetes, the odds of your child developing diabetes are 1 in 17. If you are a woman with type 1 diabetes and your child was born before you were 25, your child's risk is 1 in 25; if your child was born after you turn 25, your child's risk is 1 in 100.”
Traditionally, type 1 diabetes has been known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes because it is more likely to affect those who are aged 14 and under.
There is an increased interest in genetic testing that may be able to predict one’s risk of diabetes and in more recent studies, it has been shown that there are certain genes that may increase your risk of developing diabetes later down the line.
See also: What is Type 1 Diabetes?
Is type 2 diabetes genetic?
Type 2 diabetes may develop due to a genetic predisposition and is impacted by lifestyle factors.
Type 2 diabetes may also be impacted by family health history but this lies within the nature vs. nurture debate. If you are part of a family who continuously has a poor diet, low level of exercise and is overweight, there is a higher risk that you will also develop type 2 diabetes.
Despite the fact that type 2 diabetes could be classified as a genetic condition, it is correlated more strongly with lifestyle and environmental factors.
When it comes to genetics, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes may be connected to up to 150 DNA variations that are associated with the condition, these genes are said to have an impact on the performance of the beta cells in producing sufficient insulin for successful glucose absorption and transportation.
While there are a number of gene mutations that have been linked to type 2 diabetes, there is a much higher likelihood of developing issues down the line if you have a family history of diabetes or if you fall within some high risk groups. According to The American Diabetes Association; “If you have a family history of type 2 diabetes, it may be difficult to figure out whether your diabetes is due to lifestyle factors or genetic susceptibility. Most likely it is due to both.”
See also: What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Is gestational diabetes genetic?
Gestational diabetes is a condition that may occur at the beginning of your pregnancy when blood sugar is elevated over a prolonged period of time due to insulin resistance. Gestational diabetes usually passes after your pregnancy but there is a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes down the line.
Gestational diabetes is genetic but your risk of developing the condition doesn’t rely solely on your genes, it has also been described as a hereditary condition as there is an increased risk of experiencing gestational diabetes if a family member has.
Gestational diabetes develops as a result of interactions between environmental and genetic factors. Family history has been observed in studies which have shown the familial connections of gestational diabetes. While there is no clear inheritance pattern, women with gestational diabetes often have a family member with diabetes, usually type 2.
What should you do if you have a family history of diabetes?
If you have a family history of diabetes, you should look at the direct causes of your family member’s diabetes, as it will equip you with the essential knowledge that you need to lower your risk of developing prediabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes down the line.
Unfortunately, there are no lifestyle changes you can make to offset your chance of developing type 1 diabetes. It is important to be aware of the symptoms and signs of type 1 diabetes so you can get tested should you start to experience these.
If you have a family history of diabetes, there are two things that you need to take into consideration.
First things first, there is a genetic component. You need to ask yourself questions like: “Who in your family has diabetes?” If it’s your mother or father, there is an increased likelihood that you will develop the condition.
Secondly, you need to look at the environment in which you were raised. Would you consider your family healthy? Take a look at the dinner table, does your average family meal contain a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables? Do you and your family get enough exercise?
If you are overweight or obese, there is an increased chance of developing prediabetes, type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes down the line, but all is not lost. There are lifestyle changes that you can make to better your overall health and reduce your risk of diabetes down the line.
If you’re at risk of diabetes, it’s important to know more. This can be done by taking a diabetes test with your doctor or from home with an at-home lab test.
LetsGetChecked’s at-home Diabetes test can help identify pre-diabetes or determine how well a person's diabetes is being controlled following diagnosis with online results available within 5 days. Our medical team will be available to answer any questions you may have throughout the process or regarding your results.
See also: How do you Check for Diabetes From Home?