The parents and siblings of people who were diagnosed with diabetes before the age of 5 are at higher risk to develop the disease, according to the results of a new study published in the January 2002 issue of Diabetes.
Researchers in the United Kingdom studied 1,299 families to assess the parents’ and siblings’ risk of developing type 1 diabetes in relation to the age of onset in the family member who was originally diagnosed with the disease. The researchers ascertained risk in 1,430 siblings and 2,419 parents by measuring islet autoantibodies and other genetic markers for diabetes.
Siblings of those diagnosed before the age of 5 had a cumulative risk of 11.7 percent for developing diabetes themselves by the age of 20. That compared to a cumulative risk of 3.6 percent for the siblings of those diagnosed at ages 5 to 9 and a 2.3 percent risk for the siblings of those diagnosed at ages 10 to 14.
Parents of children diagnosed with diabetes before the age of 5 had a cumulative risk of 5.9 percent for developing diabetes by the age of 40, compared to a 3.7 percent risk for the parents of those diagnosed at ages 5 to 9 and ages 10 to 14.
The researchers point out that those who were diagnosed before they were 5 were more likely to have other genetic markers that indicate risk for diabetes. Their siblings were also more likely to have at least two autoantibody markers that signal risk for diabetes.