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Inherited Disorders and Birth Defects

Chances of Diabetes in Newborn Child

12/05/2011

Question:

My wife is pregnant. She has diabetes, so I want to know what the chances are of my newborn child having diabetes?

Answer:

The chance that your newborn child will have diabetes depends on the type of diabetes your wife has and how old she is when the baby is born. According to the American Diabetes Association, there is a 1 in 25 (or 4%) chance of having a baby with diabetes if the mom is less than 25 years old and has type 1 diabetes. If the mom is older than 25 when the baby is born then there is a 1 in 100 (1%) chance the baby will develop diabetes. If the mom was child when she developed type 1 diabetes the risk would double.

Type 1 diabetes usually affects children and young adults and is considered to be an autoimmune disease which leads to the destruction of the cells that produce insulin, a hormone which helps to breakdown sugars. People who have type 1 diabetes do not make any (or very little) insulin and must replace it by having insulin shots.

If your wife has type 2 diabetes, (the non-insulin-dependent form), which results from not having enough insulin or the insulin does not work properly, then the risk of your child getting diabetes is 1 in 7 (~ 14%). The 1 in 7 risk is for children of people who were diagnosed before age 50 with type 2.

While both types of diabetes (type 1 and type 2) have an inherited component, there are also environmentally factors that put someone at increased risk to develop diabetes. So there is not a simple pattern of inheritance. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes – about 90%.

If you have not done so already, you and your wife may want to discuss the chances of your child being diabetic with a genetic counselor or geneticist. They would be able to provide specific information in the context of your medical and family histories. You can locate a genetics center near you at the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ Resource Center website below.

Related Resources:

National Society of Genetic Counselors Resource Center

For more information:

Go to the Inherited Disorders and Birth Defects health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Anne   Matthews, RN, PhD Anne Matthews, RN, PhD
Associate Professor of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University