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Family History of Diabetes Increases Risk for Prediabetes

Update Date: Aug 22, 2013 01:26 PM EDT

Prediabetes is a condition in which one's blood sugar levels reside in between the normal, healthy range and the diabetic range. People with prediabetes are at a greater risk of developing the condition and thus, must be adamant about preventing the condition by eating right, exercising and taking other preventative measures. In a new study, researchers identified another risk factor for prediabetes. The researchers from the German Center for Diabetes Research reported that people with a family history of diabetes have a 26 percent increased risk for prediabetes even if they are not obese.

For this study, Dr. Andreas Fritsche and colleagues examined 8,106 European participants who did not have diabetes. Within this group of people, the researchers identified 5,482 with normal glucose tolerance and 2,624 with prediabetes, which comes in two forms. The two forms are impaired fasting glycaemia (IFG) and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). IFG occurs when the glucose levels during the fasting state are above normal but under the diabetic range and IGT occurs when insulin resistance leads to abnormal blood sugar levels.

The researchers looked specifically at the effects of having a first-degree relative with diabetes. They found that a family history of diabetes contributed to a 40 percent risk for prediabetes for either IFG or IGT or both. Once the researchers adjusted for age, sex and body mass index (BMI), the risk factor fell to 26 percent. When the researchers looked at the two different types of prediabetes, they found that a family history of diabetes led to a 37 percent risk for IFG and a 25 percent risk for IGT.

"Our data suggest that a family history of diabetes is associated with prediabetes in non-obese rather than in obese indidivuals. This might indicate the effect of family history on prediabetes becomes readily measurable only when not overshadowed by strong risk factors such as obesity," the researchers wrote according to Medical Xpress. "We found that family history is an important risk factor for prediabetes, especially for combinted IGT and IFG. Its relevance seems to be more evident in the non-obese."

The researchers hope that this new finding would promote people who might not think they are at risk for diabetes since they are not overweight or obese to seek preventative measures if they have close family members with diabetes. The study was published in Diabetologia, a journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

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