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Question:

From New Jersey, USA:

My wife (Type 1 diabetic) and I just had a healthy baby girl - 6 pounds, 9 ounces. My wife has been a diabetic since age 9. What are our baby's chances of becoming a diabetic? Our pediatrician does not seem concerned and is not testing for any "signs" of diabetes, should he?

Answer:

Congratulations on the birth of your new daughter! The chance of your daughter developing diabetes is about 3-5% in her lifetime (or, about 95% chance she won't develop diabetes). Although rare, diabetes can start in infancy. Usually the early symptoms such as excessive thirst and urination are missed in a young infant. Usually the first symptoms are vomiting, dehydration, or rapid breathing. These children can get sick very rapidly if not treated. If your child has any of these symptoms, a simple urine test should rule out diabetes. In an older child, the early symptoms are usually obvious before the child becomes very sick.

There are blood tests that can indicate that your child is at high risk for developing diabetes in the next few months or years. There is a study called the Diabetes Prevention Trial going on in the US where relatives of people with diabetes can have blood tests to look for antibodies against the pancreas or insulin. If after further testing the individual seems to be at high risk of developing diabetes, they can participate in a study using either injected or oral insulin to try and prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. (Half the individuals at high risk are treated with either injected or oral insulin, and half are given placebo or just observed.) The child has to be at least 3 years old to enroll in the study. The antibody test can first be negative and then become positive years later, so a negative test now does't rule out the possibility of developing diabetes in the future.

Right now, the best thing is probably to concentrate on enjoying your beautiful, healthy, newborn baby and hope that she sleeps through the night at a young age!

TGL

Original posting 14 Sep 1998
Posted to Genetics and Heredity

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