On one of my recent trips to my home country of Nigeria, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with long lost relatives and I also got to meet new relatives. I was surprised to find out that some of my relatives had developed type 2 diabetes.

Which brings me to today’s topic – what is the relationship between your family medical history and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes?

Here are some important statistics from the American Diabetes Association:

  • There is a much stronger link between type 2 diabetes and family history than in type 1 diabetes.
  • Depending on your age at the time you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the risk of your child developing diabetes increases. If you are diagnosed before the age of 50, then your child has a 1 in 7 of being diagnosed with diabetes. However if you are diagnosed after the age of 50 then that risk reduces to 1 in 13.
  • The risk of developing diabetes is higher if the parent is a mother.
  • The risk of developing diabetes increased to 1 in 2 if both parents have diabetes.

Does a family history of diabetes mean that you will get diabetes?

As you can see from these statistics, there is an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes if a parent particularly a mother has diabetes. But all hope is not lost.

Let’s go back to one of the striking statistics I listed above-

The risk of developing diabetes is higher if the parent is a mother.

This means that if a woman develops type 2 diabetes, her children have a higher risk of becoming diabetic! Type 2 diabetes is as much a disease of lifestyle as it is what resides in our genes.

This means that as a woman if you or a family member has type 2 diabetes, then you need to become pro-active in taking preventive measures.

This is why the focus of this website is on women living with type 2 diabetes.

As a physician and a lifestyle coach, my assertion is that by providing women with information on how to live healthy pro-active lives, this will go a long way to impacting the overall health of her family.

As women, we are child bearers, and have traditionally been caregivers and nurturers. We have a stake in reducing type 2 diabetes. We can do this by being more aware of how to prevent this disease in not only our families but also our communities.

It starts with becoming an informed participant in your own health and wellbeing. Knowing your genetic roots is an integral part of that. I find that a lot of people do not know their family medical history. If you are one of those people who do not know your family medical history, then it is time to do that.

Here are some practical tips on the importance of getting a detailed family medical history:

  • Write out your family history on both your parents’ side.
  • Be ready to delve deeper. Sometimes older family members may not have used the word ‘diabetes’. Sometimes it was called ‘a touch of sugar’.
  • Speak to several family members especially first-degree relatives. They may remember family members that perhaps your parents may not recall.
  • Check back frequently with family members to update their medical history. As you can see with my family history, the medical conditions of family members can change over time and it’s important that you know this.
  • Share your family history with your children so that they can be aware. This way the entire household becomes enrolled in a healthy lifestyle.
  • Remember to get your family medical history even if your parents are deceased.

What do you think?

Do you know your family history? Do you have an open discussion about your medical history with your family members? I’d love to read your thoughts and comments below.

To your Health and wellbeing,

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