Effect of familial diabetes status and age at diagnosis on type 2 diabetes risk: a nation-wide register-based study from Denmark

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AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: We assessed whether the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and the age of onset varied with the age at diabetes diagnosis of affected family members.

METHODS: We performed a national register-based open cohort study of individuals living in Denmark between 1995 and 2012. The population under study consisted of all individuals aged 30 years or older without diagnosed diabetes at the start date of the cohort (1 January 1995) and who had information about their parents' identity. Individuals who turned 30 years of age during the observation period and had available parental identity information were also added to the cohort from that date (open cohort design). These criteria restricted the study population mostly to people born between 1960 and 1982. Multivariable Poisson regression models adjusted for current age and highest educational attainment were used to estimate incidence rate ratios (IRRs) of type 2 diabetes.

RESULTS: We followed 2,000,552 individuals for a median of 14 years (24,034,059 person-years) and observed 76,633 new cases of type 2 diabetes. Compared with individuals of the same age and sex who did not have a parent or full sibling with diabetes, the highest risk of developing type 2 diabetes was observed in individuals with family members diagnosed at an early age. The IRR was progressively lower with a higher age at diabetes diagnosis in family members: 3.9 vs 1.4 for those with a parental age at diagnosis of 50 or 80 years, respectively; and 3.3 vs 2.0 for those with a full sibling's age at diagnosis of 30 or 60 years, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: People with a family member diagnosed with diabetes at an earlier age are more likely to develop diabetes and also to develop it at an earlier age than those with a family member diagnosed in later life. This finding highlights the importance of expanding our understanding of the interplay between genetic diabetes determinants and the social, behavioural and environmental diabetes determinants that track in families across generations. Accurate registration of age at diagnosis should form an integral part of recording a diabetes family history, as it provides easily obtainable and highly relevant detail that may improve identification of individuals at increased risk of younger onset of type 2 diabetes. In particular, these individuals may benefit from closer risk factor assessment and follow-up, as well as prevention strategies that may involve the family.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)934–943
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2020

ID: 237050418