What Are the Risk Factors for Type 1 Diabetes

What Are the Risk Factors for Type 1 Diabetes

What Are the Risk Factors for Type 1 Diabetes?

• Family and genetics. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. A multitude of gene polymorphic variants are associated with type 1 diabetes; among them are HLA-DQA1, HLA-DQB1, and HLA- DRB1 genes, which all belong to the human leukocyte antigen complex. The major functions of the human leukocyte antigen complex include enhancing immune functions, discerning self from nonself, protecting organs and tissues, and attacking foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. Mutations in these genes lead to immune disorders and the inability of the immune system to discern self from nonself. In type 1 diabetes, immune cells attack insulin-producing beta cells, mistaking them as foreign, causing the death of beta cells.

• Geography. People who live far away from the equator have a higher incidence rate of type 1 diabetes. The risk of type 1 diabetes is higher in the winter months compared to the summer months. Northern Europeans are prone to type 1 diabetes with a high incidence rate of 60 per 100,000 people. Contrary to that, the incidence rate of type 1 diabetes is only 0.1 per 100,000 people in China, India, and Venezuela.

• Age and gender. Although type 1 diabetes can affect any age group, children ages 4–7 and 10–14 are most susceptible. In general, autoimmune diseases are more common in women compared to men. However, in type 1 diabetes, men have a higher incidence rate than women.

• Other autoimmune diseases. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus, ankylosing spondylitis, or autoimmune thyroid disease have an increased risk of type 1 diabetes.

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