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Risk Factors

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Risk Factors

Type 1

Usually starts in childhood, type 1 diabetes forces your pancreas to stop making insulin. You have type 1 diabetes for life. The main things that lead to it are: 

  • Family history. If you have relatives with diabetes, chances are strong you’ll get it, too. Anyone who has a mother, father, sister, or brother with type 1 diabetes should get checked. A simple blood test can diagnose it.
  • Diseases of the pancreas. They can slow its ability to make insulin.
  • Infection or illness. Some infections and illnesses, mostly rare ones, can damage your pancreas. 

Type 2

With Type 2, your body can't use the insulin it makes causing insulin resistance. Type 2 usually affects adults, but it can begin at any time in your life. The main things that lead to it are:

  • Obesity or being overweight. Research shows this is a top reason for type 2 diabetes. Because of the rise in obesity among U.S. children, this type is affecting more teenagers.
  • Ethnic background. Diabetes happens more often in Hispanic/Latino Americans, African-Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Alaska natives. 
  • Sedentary lifestyle. You exercise less than three times a week.
  • Family history. You have a parent or sibling who has diabetes. 
  • Gestational diabetes. If you had diabetes while you were pregnant, you had gestational diabetes. This raises your chances of getting type 2 diabetes later in life.

Gestational Diabetes

Diabetes when you’re expecting affects about 4% of all U.S. pregnancies. It's caused by hormones the placenta makes or by too little insulin. High blood sugar from the mother causes high blood sugar in the baby. 

Things that can lead to gestational diabetes include:

  • Obesity or being overweight. Extra pounds can lead to gestational diabetes.
  • Glucose intolerance. Having glucose intolerance or gestational diabetes in the past makes you more likely to get it again.
  • Family history. If a parent or sibling has had gestational diabetes, you're more likely to get it.
  • Age. The older you are when you get pregnant, the higher your chances are.