Diabetes Handbook Online
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Heredity

The heredity pattern of diabetes is very complex and the genetic tendency shows clearly that it is not directly handed on to all the children of an affected generation, although the tendency towards developing it is passed on. Thus, in at least a quarter of all cases of newly diagnosed diabetes, there is a family history of some relative having been previously affected. In identical twins (who obviously inherit the same genes), when one twin develops diabetes, about 70 per cent of the other twins this happens with less than ten per cent. In children with both diabetic mothers and fathers, only one in four subsequently develops diabetes those with only one diabetic parent develop the disorder at an only slightly greater rate than the normal population. This rate also holds for children who are born of mothers already on insulin.

This recessive characteristics of diabetic inheritance has led some to suggest that it is not diabetes that is passed on in the population, but a failure to pass on the gene that prevents it. We are all, therefore, potential diabetics but most have a genetic make-up that stops it developing.

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