A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition. It is possible to develop type 1 diabetes with or without the risk factors listed below. There are no known definite risk factors. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing type 1 diabetes. The main risk factors include the following:

Family History

If you have a parent, brother, or sister with type 1 diabetes, you (or your child) are at greater risk of having it, too. Scientists continue to believe that genetic factors play a role in the development of type 1 diabetes.

Autoimmune Conditions

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, caused by the body's immune system attacking the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. You may be at a greater risk of developing type 1 diabetes if you have another condition that affects the immune system, such as:

Ethnic Background

You are at an increased risk of type 1 diabetes if your ethnicity is:

  • Northern European
  • Mediterranean
  • African American
  • Hispanic
  • Native American

Other Risk Factors

Other factors that may increase your child's risk of type 1 diabetes include:

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Bottle-feeding or short duration of breastfeeding
  • High birth weight
  • Obesity during childhood
  • Mother's age at childbirth (over 35 years)

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2017 -
  • Update Date: 09/08/2015 -