AskNadia: Why Type 1 Diabetes?

Why did my daughter get Type 1 diabetes? I wish I had it instead of her.

San Francisco CA
Dear BK,

I have been asked this question many times over the years. Especially by parents like yourself who are learning to cope with their newly diagnosed child. A type 1 diagnosis means that your daughter’s immune system is attacking her pancreatic insulin beta cells. Diabetes has a hereditary component to getting diagnosed. Somewhere in your family history is a gene that triggered your daughter’s diagnosis?

What Are The Risk Factors For a Type 1 Diagnosis?

Type 1 diabetes favors one ethnic group. Statistically, It’s more dominate in Caucasians and children that are not breastfed. Additionally, an environmental condition can trigger a genetic disposition. It has been documented that people who live in colder climates have a higher diabetes diagnosis rate.

The ADA states that “ Researchers are learning how to predict a person’s odds of getting diabetes. For example, most whites with type 1 diabetes have genes called HLA-DR3 or HLA-DR4. If you and your child are white and share these genes, your child’s risk is higher. (Suspect genes in other ethnic groups are less well studied. The HLA-DR7 gene may put African Americans at risk, and the HLA-DR9 gene may put Japanese at risk.)”

Other tests can also make your child’s risk clearer. A special test that tells how the body responds to glucose can tell which school-aged children are most at risk.
Another more expensive test can be done for children who have siblings with type 1 diabetes. This test measures antibodies to insulin, to islet cells in the pancreas, or to an enzyme called glutamic acid decarboxylase. High levels can indicate that a child has a higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes.”

My Advice to You?

Let go of why this happened to your family. Surrender is the best starting point. Otherwise, you will drive yourself crazy in wishing it was you and not your child. Most parents echo your thoughts.

Join a support group where you make friends with other parents that are coping with your same concerns and enroll your daughter in one the camps that are organized by the Diabetes Education Camping Association-

It’s never easy in the beginning. But as time passes you will have a new intimate group of friends that you can trust and share you deepest thoughts.

AskNadia and receive her unique perspective on your question.
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Nadia’s feedback on your question is in no way intended to replace your healthcare professionals therapy or advice. Please check in with your medical team to discuss your diabetes management concerns.
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About Nadia:
Nadia was not only born into a family with diabetes, but also married into one. She was propelled at a young age into “caretaker mode,” and with her knowledge of the scarcity of resources, support, and understanding for people with diabetes, co-founded Diabetes Interview now Diabetes Health magazine. Nadia holds 11 nominations for her work as a diabetes advocate.

Her passion for working in the diabetes community stemmed from her personal loss. She has used her experience as a caretaker to forge a career in helping others.

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