Extended Family History of Type 1 Diabetes and Phenotype and Genotype of Newly Diagnosed Children

  1. the Finnish Pediatric Diabetes Register*
  1. 1Children’s Hospital, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
  2. 2Immunogenetics Laboratory, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
  3. 3Department of Clinical Microbiology, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
  4. 4Folkhälsan Research Center, Helsinki, Finland
  5. 5Department of Pediatrics, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland
  1. Corresponding author: Mikael Knip, mikael.knip{at}


OBJECTIVE To determine the frequency of newly diagnosed diabetic children with first- and second-degree relatives affected by type 1 diabetes and to characterize the effects of this positive family history on clinical markers, signs of β-cell autoimmunity, and HLA genotype in the index case.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Children (n = 1,488) with type 1 diabetes diagnosed under 15 years of age were included in a cross-sectional study from the Finnish Pediatric Diabetes Register. Data on family history of diabetes and metabolic decompensation at diagnosis were collected using a questionnaire. Antibodies to β-cell autoantigens (islet cell antibodies, insulin auto antibodies, glutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies, and antibodies to the islet antigen 2 molecule) and HLA genotypes were analyzed.

RESULTS A total of 12.2% of the subjects had a first-degree relative with type 1 diabetes (father 6.2%, mother 3.2%, and sibling 4.8%) and 11.9% had an affected second-degree relative. Children without affected relatives had lower pH (P < 0.001), higher plasma glucose (P < 0.001) and β-hydroxybutyrate concentrations (P < 0.001), a higher rate of impaired consciousness (P = 0.02), and greater weight loss (P < 0.001). There were no differences in signs of β-cell autoimmunity. The familial cases carried the HLA DR4-DQ8 haplotype more frequently than sporadic cases (74.0 vs. 67.0%, P = 0.02).

CONCLUSIONS When the extended family history of type 1 diabetes is considered, the proportion of sporadic diabetes cases may be reduced to <80%. A positive family history for type 1 diabetes associates with a less severe metabolic decompensation at diagnosis even when only second-degree relatives are affected. Autoantibody profiles are similar in familial and sporadic type 1 diabetes, suggesting similar pathogenetic mechanisms.


  • *A complete list of the investigators of the Finnish Pediatric Diabetes Register can be found in the APPENDIX.

  • Received March 6, 2012.
  • Accepted July 26, 2012.

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