Tuesday 10 January 2012

Dreaming of Diabetes; Sibling Prevalence

As if thoughts about diabetes do not occupy enough of my waking time, last night I dreamt about diabetes. In my dream, one of my biggest fears materialized: my daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The level of detail in my dream, right down to her blood sugar number at diagnosis, was so vivid that when I awoke there was a brief moment in which I was so confused by the dream that I couldn't figure out if it was a dream or reality. As sleep faded away and I became more alert, I knew I had been dreaming, but the fear in my heart is pertinacious.

According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, the prevalence of diabetes amongst siblings in significantly higher than that of the general population. I fact, it is 10 times higher, meaning that, "If one child in a family has type 1 diabetes, their siblings have about a 1 in 10 risk of developing it by age 50" (Joslin). Now, in addition to the previous statistic, there are a number of different factors that COULD affect my daughter's actual likelihood of diagnosis. First, her and Dylan are half siblings (different fathers) and I honestly have no idea if that makes a difference or not. Did Dylan inherit some kind of "diabetes gene" that led him to develop type 1? And if so, did he get it from his father or from me, or both? Second, my daughter has a slightly different racial background than Dylan. While I am caucasian, my husband is Hispanic, so our daughter is a combination of both. Climate clusters are prevalent is type 1 diabetes diagnoses, and "caucasians (whites) have a higher risk of type 1 diabetes than any other race. Whether this is due to differences in environment or genes is unclear" (Joslin).

Based on all of the above, is my 15 year old son more likely to develop type 1 because he and Dylan share genes from both parents? Who knows. I try not to think about it, in order to prevent myself from going completely crazy, but clearly it has permeated my dreams...

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