Are my children at a higher risk of diabetes?

And am I to blame?

Remember my conversation with Pat Conroy and his lovely wife, Cassandra King? I was fortunate enough to met them during my IDEAL (Intensive, Diabetes Education Awareness Lifestyle) appointment. Thinking back on our conversation, the part I remember the most is when Mr. Conroy expressed his frustration toward his father for never telling him that he had diabetes. Mr. Conroy laughed in a bitter kind of a way about how his Dad had failed to mention that he’d been living with type 2 for years when Pat himself was diagnosed. He wondered aloud about the kind of changes he might have made to his diet if he’d known he was directly at risk, if he’d known his father had type 2. When he said that, I felt the conversation change. We were no longer two people commiserating about diabetes, he was on one side of the table, and I was on the other. I was the mother with diabetes, the mother, like Pat Conroy’s father, possibly passing this disease onto my children…

When I take my boys to Krispy Kreme, I think about Pat Conroy. When I give in to the sugary snacks they beg for, I think about Pat’s bitter laugh.

Studies show that offspring of mothers with type 1 are at a higher risk of developing diabetes, type 1 and/or type 2, than children whose mothers do not. 

What is my responsibility to my children as a mother with type 1 diabetes? Does my genetic make-up put me in a different category here too? I worked so hard during my pregnancies to give them the healthiest environment so they could grow strong, and have the best chance at life. I want to give my children the benefit of eating the foods that they love without having to measure, count and weigh the consequences. I want my children to eat freely, to think of food as a pleasure, not a system of rewards and punishments like I do. I thought that I could give them that gift. But maybe because they are my children, I owe them more.

I don’t want my kids to end up like Pat Conroy, frustrated because I didn’t warn them about the risks running through their genes. But what does that mean? Does that mean my boys bodies are ticking time bombs? Does that mean I need to start saying, “Mommy can’t have an ice cream because of diabetes and because you’re my babies, you can’t either.”

3 thoughts on “Are my children at a higher risk of diabetes?

  1. Well, there is genetic testing to see if your kids have the genes for developing diabetes, if you want to go that route.

    With insulin and carb counting, why can’t you have ice cream?

    To be perfectly blunt, we all will die from something, some from a genetic health predisposition, and some not. The key is to live healthfully, with everything in moderation, regardless of one’s genetic background. (Which is what I’d say to Pat Conroy.)

    Statistically, a good number of people die from motor vehicle accidents. Does this mean you keep your kids out of cars all the time? I’m guessing no. But just as kids should wear seat belts to protect themselves, so too should they eat healthfully, exercise, maintain healthy weights, avoid smoking, and all that.

    You do the best you can do with the information you have at the time.

  2. You’re right, I can’t protect them from everything but I’m still wonder whether I have an extra responsibility to feed them a healthy diet as a mother with diabetes. And as far as genetic testing goes, I don’t know that I’d want to know..

    I do eat ice cream every now and then, I think being diagnosed in 1985 has kept me in a certain mind-frame of yes and no foods. I still see managing my diabetes as living by dietary restrictions and so I don’t just give an extra shot if I want to eat ice cream.

    Thanks for being blunt! Who knows, maybe I projected my issues onto Pat Conroy and he was simply telling a story

  3. Hi, I am also a type 1 diabetic, diagnosed at age 10 (24 years ago). I have 3 healthy children. I can certainly understand your thoughts… I have the same ones, too. My kids certainly have a genetic predisposition to developing diabetes, that’s just the way it is. This truth can sometimes make me feel guilty, and make me feel like I have an extra responsibility to encourage healthy eating habits to prevent obesity in my kids. There have been seasons where I have done well with this, and seasons where I have failed. I guess I just try to do the best I can and take it one day at a time.

    As far as foods go, we don’t restrict anything, but we definitely moderate the amount we eat. I have an insulin pump and it’s the best thing. It’s amazing the “freedom” it gives me in my eating. That doesn’t mean I can eat anything I want in any amount (because if I did, I’d gain weight and gain all the extra difficulty in maintaining normal blood glucose levels that comes with it). But it does mean I can eat some of everything and still control my levels. I’d recommend a pump to anyone!!

    But anyways, the point of my reply is just that you’re not the only one contemplating the effect of your diabetes on your children!!

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