Type 1 diabetes and relative protection against offspring transmission: A review of research
By Carolien Koreneff, CDE-RN
The risk of a person developing type 1 diabetes is around 8-15 times higher than the general population if the person has a first degree relative with the condition. Although it is not clear why, children whose father has type 1 diabetes are nearly twice as much at risk of developing type 1 diabetes themselves, then the children of women with type 1 diabetes.
The researchers of this Review in Lancet Diabetes Endocrinology, published on 1st September 2023, looked at the findings of nine major studies that describe the above effect. They summarised the evidence on the rate of transmission of type 1 diabetes to the offspring of fathers with type 1 diabetes compared to mothers with type 1 diabetes. They also explored the relative strengths and weaknesses of the studies involved, as well as underlying mechanisms for this effect.
The researchers found that there is consistent evidence of a lower risk of type 1 diabetes among the offspring of mothers versus fathers with type 1 diabetes. They argue that: “Although published studies in this field are not without limitation, taken together, they suggest that the risk of type 1 diabetes is around twice as high in the offspring of men versus women with type 1 diabetes. This evidence supports the hypothesis that maternal type 1 diabetes offers relative protection against the development of type 1 diabetes” in the offspring.
Understanding why type 1 diabetes is more common in the children of fathers with the condition will help identify individuals at high risk of developing type 1 diabetes. It may also help in developing interventions that mimic the protective elements of maternal type 1 diabetes, in an effort to reduce the risk of developing type 1 diabetes in those people who are at high risk.
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