Genetic Information Helps Identify High Future Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Children

​Several risk factors in childhood, such as being overweight or obese, high systolic blood pressure, family history and mother’s high body mass index, affect the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in adulthood. Heredity also plays a role in the person’s susceptibility to developing the disease.

In determining the genetic risk profile, researchers at the Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Turku used over 70 genetic markers related to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The genetic markers have been identified earlier in genome-wide association studies conducted by international consortia.

‒ The impacts of individual genetic markers are small, but a genetic risk profile comprising several genetic markers combined with information about traditional risk factors may improve the models predicting the risk of developing the disease, says Niina Pitkänen, Senior Researcher at the Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine.

Earlier studies have shown that a genetic risk profile provides limited added value in predicting the risk of developing the disease in adulthood. The recently published study shows that especially people in younger age groups, in which the traditional risk factors play a less significant role, may benefit from genetic profiling.

– Because it is possible to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes with a healthy lifestyle, it is important to find methods to identify the persons with an increased risk at an early stage. Enhanced lifestyle guidance and monitoring could then possibly be targeted at those persons.

The study is part of the official nationwide study The Cardiovascular Study in Young Finns (Young Finns Study) coordinated by the Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Turku. The study followed a total of 2,298 persons between the ages of 3 and 18 for the duration of 24–31 years. During the study, 79 people developed type 2 diabetes and 484 were diagnosed with a pre-stage of type 2 diabetes i.e. impaired fasting glucose, IFG. The research subjects’ genetic risk profiles were determined on the basis of 76 known genetic markers of type 2 diabetes.

The study found that there was a connection between the genetic risk profile and the risk of developing pre-diabetes as well as type 2 diabetes in adulthood. In addition, adding genetic information to prediction models that included the traditional childhood risk factors improved the identification capability of the models as well as their categorisation accuracy when measured by different statistical methods.

>> The results of the study have been published in Diabetes Care, a publication of the American Diabetes Association

Text: Taru Suhonen
Photo: igemhq

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Published date 6/15/2016 1:55 PM ,  Modified date 6/15/2016 2:01 PM

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