Diabetes Type 1 Risk Factors

What is diabetes type 1?

When a person has type 1 diabetes, their body is unable to manufacture its own insulin. Blood glucose levels continue to be high as a result. Patients must inject insulin to lower their blood sugar levels. Long-term treatment is necessary for type 1 diabetes. Patients with type 1 diabetes can enjoy regular lives. Type 1 diabetes can affect a person regardless of how much they weigh. Often, treatment aims to prevent complications by regulating blood sugar levels with the help of artificial insulin, diet, and lifestyle modifications.

Symptoms of diabetes type 1

Symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are similar. The main signs of type 1 diabetes include

  • Extreme thirst
  • Increased frequency of urination, especially at night
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Loss of weight without engaging in any exercise or dietary restrictions
  • Vision problems that don't go away
  • Breath that smells like fruit

Children are more likely to develop the symptoms of type 1 diabetes. 

Risk factors of diabetes type 1

There are some risk factors that can enhance the chance of having type 1 diabetes. Here are a few risk factors:

Family history

Type 1 diabetes has a high probability of developing in children whose parent suffers from the disease. Family history is a significant factor in type 1 diabetes development.


Previous research has found that a few genes are directly involved in developing type 1 diabetes. Several HLA-DQA1, HLA-DQB1, and HLA-DRB1 gene polymorphisms enhance the risk of type 1 diabetes.¹ These genes give instructions on how to produce proteins that are essential to the immune system. The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) complex is a family of genes that includes the HLA-DQA1, HLA-DQB1, and HLA-DRB1 genes. The HLA complex aids the immune system in separating proteins produced by the host's own cells from those produced by foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria.¹


According to research, people who live far from the equator have a higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes. According to a different study, those over 35 who live in urban areas have a higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes than those who reside in rural areas.² 


Type 1 diabetes can strike at any age. However, there are two age groups that are more likely to develop diabetes than others - children between the ages of 4 and 7, as well as those between the ages of 10 and 14. 

Family history

One of the causes of type 1 diabetes is family history. However, it's not the only factor in the development of diabetes in kids or teenagers. External factors and eating habits play a significant role t in the development of the condition. 

There isn't a specific gene that can activate or deactivate the signs of type 1 diabetes. A number of genes play a crucial role in this, such as the HLA genes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease and due to this, the body is unable to create enough insulin to lower blood sugar levels.

Injury to the pancreas

The pancreas has three different types of cells called  alpha, beta, and gamma cells. Insulin, a hormone secreted by beta cells, reduces blood sugar levels. Due to beta cell damage in type 1 diabetes, insulin synthesis is severely impacted.³

Having another autoimmune condition

Our body battles against its own immune system when we have an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease such as type 1 diabetes occurs when the body's defence mechanisms attack the beta cells in the pancreas. The body is unable to manufacture insulin as a result, and blood glucose levels remain high.


There are two forms of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is classified as an autoimmune illness that depends on insulin. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas' beta cells are unable to produce enough insulin to lower blood glucose levels. Type 1 diabetes has no recognised aetiology. A type 1 diabetes diagnosis may be influenced by factors such as eating habits, living circumstances, genetic makeup, and a few genes. It is a life-long illness, therefore for normal, healthy life to be maintained, long-term treatment is necessary.


  1. Type 1 diabetes: MedlinePlus Genetics [Internet]. [cited 2022 Aug 30]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/type-1-diabetes/
  2. Khan MMH, Gruebner O, Kraemer A. The geography of diabetes among the general adults aged 35 years and older in Bangladesh: recent evidence from a cross-sectional survey. Sun Q, editor. PLoS ONE [Internet]. 2014 Oct 30 [cited 2022 Aug 30];9(10):e110756. Available from: https://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0110756
  3. Walker AE. The adult pancreas in trauma and disease. Acad Forensic Pathol [Internet]. 2018 Jun [cited 2022 Sep 1];8(2):192–218. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6490126/

Sayan Majumdar

Master of Public Health - MPH, Medicine, Imperial College London

Pursuing a master's degree in public health at Imperial College, London, with a special combination of management and technical skills. I am a motivated, detail-oriented, and problem-solving healthcare professional. I am quite interested in qualitative and quantitative analysis, innovative digital healthtech solutions, and cost-effective healthcare interventions. Putting science into practice would be my academic goal.

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