AskNadia: Why Did My Daughter Get Diagnosed With 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 dominant 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.



Genetics of Diabetes




Nadia’s feedback on your question is in no way intended to initiate or replace your healthcare professional’s therapy or advice. Please check in with your medical team to discuss your diabetes management concerns.

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About Nadia:


AskNadia (ranked #1 by Google), named “Best Diabetes Blog for 2019 by Healthline and with 25 nominations, Nadia Al-Samarrie’s efforts have made her stand out as a pioneer and leading patient advocate in the diabetes community.


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.


Under her reign- Diabetes Health magazine was named one of the top 10 magazines to follow in the world for 2018 by Feedspot Blog Reader.


Nadia has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, and other major cable networks. Her publications, medical supply business, and website have been cited, recognized and published in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Wall Street Journal, Ann Landers advice column, former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca, Entrepreneur magazine, Houston News,, Brand Week, Drug Topics, and many other media outlets.


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