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From Colorado, USA:

Does Father pass diabetes to daughters and Mother pass diabetes to sons, or is this an old wives' tale?


Yes, it sounds like an old wives tale, both for type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Moreover, to say that parents pass diabetes to their offspring is a gross overstatement. Although both forms of diabetes show familial aggregation (stronger in Type 2 diabetes), "diabetes genes" do not directly cause diabetes but simply make it more likely for an individual to get diabetes. Thus, what is passed on is only a genetic predisposition. This means that the offspring of a parent with diabetes has a higher risk of developing diabetes, but that does not mean that diabetes will develop for sure. For type 1 diabetes, the lifetime risk to the offspring of a parent with the disease is approximately 3%. Moreover, the affected parent should not be seen as the one who passed the disease or the diabetes genes to his/her offspring, since we inherit genes from both parents in equal proportions. Thus, even if the affected parent in the family had passed on "diabetes genes", the unaffected parent had to pass on either predisposing or permissive genes for the offspring to develop diabetes.


Original posting 29 Aug 1998
Posted to Genetics and Heredity


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:00
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