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From Black Diamond, Washington, USA:

Three days ago, my five year old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and we have four very close friends with kids his age that also have it. The doctors think it is a blessing when they walk into the room and my five year old is comparing his meter with his buddies or is showing him the benefits of the automatic injector while my wife argues for the pump. A two and a half year old just pulls up his shirt to show my son his favorite injection spot!

I am learning that people may be born with a genetic predisposition to diabetes, and we will be having our two year old daughter tested to see if she has it. If this is a predisposition, what is the catalyst for developing diabetes?

Any information would be helpful. We are still lost and overwhelmed with all the information and very perplexed by five kids living within five miles having type 1 diabetes.


Rather a potpourri of questions, and I'm sure you have a hundred more. At this stage, I think you would find it a big help to read one of the good manuals listed at this site. See Books for Parents, Adults and Older Kids.

Your little daughter has only about a 5% chance of developing type 1A (autoimmune) diabetes before she is 20, assuming that an antibody test has shown that this is what your son has. It is, by far, the most likely form of diabetes at his age in Caucasian children.The actual mechanism is really rather complicated and depends on the activation of a certain group of white blood cells to produce 'cytokines' that very slowly target and destroy the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. There is an inherited component to this which governs the shape of certain HLA proteins on the surface of cells and an environmental one which is not yet understood, although some cow's milk proteins may be involved.

Having four friends who also have young children with diabetes is almost certainly just a statistical happenstance, and whilst this is great for companionship, I think you should follow the advice of your son's diabetes team as you gradually become expert in managing this problem.


Original posting 6 May 2002
Posted to Research: Causes and Prevention


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