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TriStar Centennial Medical Center

Risk Factors for Type 1 Diabetes

A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition. It is possible to develop type 1 diabetes with or without the risk factors listed below. There are no known definite risk factors. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing type 1 diabetes. The main risk factors include the following:

Family History

If you have a parent, brother, or sister with type 1 diabetes, you (or your child) are at greater risk of having it, too. Scientists continue to believe that genetic factors play a role in the development of type 1 diabetes, but which genes is unclear.

Autoimmune Conditions

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, caused by the body's immune system attacking the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. You may be at a greater risk of developing type 1 diabetes if you have another condition that affects the immune system, such as:

Ethnic Background

You are at an increased risk of type 1 diabetes if your ethnicity is:

  • Northern European
  • Mediterranean
  • African American
  • Hispanic
  • Native American

Other Risk Factors

Other factors that may increase your child's risk of type 1 diabetes include:

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Bottle-feeding or short duration of breastfeeding
  • High birth weight
  • Obesity during childhood
  • Mothers age at childbirth (over 35 years)

Revision Information

  • Causes of diabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: Updated June 2014. Accessed September 8, 2015.

  • Diabetes mellitus type 1. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated August 27, 2015. Accessed September 8, 2015.

  • Schatz D, Krischer J, Horne G, et al. Islet cell antibodies predict insulin-dependent diabetes in United States school age children as powerfully as in unaffected relatives. J Clin Invest. 1994;93(6):2403-2407.

  • TRIGR study: a new trial investigates environmental triggers in type 1 diabetes [press release]. Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International website. Available at: August 7, 2002. Accessed December 31, 2012.

  • Type 1 diabetes. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: Accessed December 31, 2012.

  • 3/12/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Cardwell CR, Stene LC, Joner G, et al. Birthweight and the risk of childhood-onset type 1 diabetes: a meta-analysis of observational studies using individual patient data. Diabetologia. 2010;53(4):641-651.

  • 3/12/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Cardwell CR, Stene LC, Joner G, et al. Maternal age at birth and childhood type 1 diabetes: a pooled analysis of 30 observational studies. Diabetes. 2010;59(2):486-494.

  • 4/1/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Verbeeten KC, Elks CE, Daneman D, Ong KK. Association between childhood obesity and subsequent Type 1 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabet Med. 2011;28(1):10-18.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. TriStar Health does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.