Monday, January 28, 2013

Rampant Diabetes--in the US and in my ancestry

I am not certain how diabetes runs in different families.  I wonder:  does every family have at least one person with Type 2 diabetes?   The statistics are difficult to figure out, especially because organizations such as the American Heart Association keep their numbers by age (child versus adult) rather than by diagnosis (Type 1 versus Type 2). The 2012 American Heart Association Statistical Fact Sheet. for example, says that there were 18.3 million American adults with diagnosed diabetes, 81 million with pre-diabetes, and over seven million adults who are running around undiagnosed.  Nearly 200,000 American children under age 20 had diabetes in 2012.

What we don't know from the AHA figures is how many of those kids had Type 2 because they were heavy and not eating properly, and how many were Type 1, with genetic predispositions and antibodies.

What we also don't know from the AHA statistics is how many of the 18 million grown-ups with diabetes are us Type 1's who are surviving and living normal or near-normal life-spans.  We don't.

So there is no way I can see from these stats to figure out how many of us are living in families with a predisposition toward diabetes.

What I can tell you is this:

I have two antibodies for Type 1.  I was diagnosed as an adult, around age 30, which means I don't fit properly into the AHA categories -- an adult Type 1 doing well.  I am Caucasian and non-Hispanic, so I am from a population that generally is not as predisposed to diabetes.

I can tell you that one of my ancestral lines--specifically my maternal grandmother's mother's line--has family members with Type 1.  My third cousin here in Seattle, a descendant of my grandmother's first cousin, got Type 1 diabetes at about the same age as I.  We have also been told that my grandma had twin cousins with Type 1.  We do not know much beyond that.  The Jewish diaspora, you know...

My maternal grandpa had Type 2 diabetes.

My father's family is a complex story.  Lots of Type 2 diabetes and lots of deaths due to complications of diabetes.  My first cousin Carl, my dad's nephew, has Type 2, and several of his half siblings died of Type 2, including many years ago my cousin Clara, who was morbidly obese.  There were three different mothers, so it's probably a pretty good indication that the diabetes comes from the Bradleys or perhaps my dad's mom's family.  We don't know.

What I do know is that the cards are stacked against these genes of mine.

But from my perspective, it seems that everyone I know has somebody somewhere in their family with diabetes.  It's usually Type 2, but it's there.


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