University of Illinois Extension

Risk Factors

Type 1 Diabetes

Certain people may be prone to developing type 1 diabetes. The exact causes are unknown, but genetics and viral infections may have something to do with it.

Type 2 Diabetes

Insulin resistance that can lead to pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes usually occurs due to a combination of genetic and environmental effects. Environmental factors include eating habits and how active a person is. Children with first or second degree relatives who have diabetes are at increased risk. First degree relatives are your parents and brothers or sisters. Second degree relatives are your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. These first or second degree relatives have to be related to you by blood. Also, children whose mothers had diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes) may be at higher risk.

Certain ethnicities are at greater risk for insulin resistance:

  • Native American
  • African American
  • Hispanic/Latino
  • Pacific Islander
  • Asian American
  • Alaska Native

Puberty can be a starting point for obesity and insulin resistance. At puberty, there is usually an increase in body fat. This results from changes in the body, diet, and amount of physical activity. Some girls are more likely to have insulin resistance. This may be related to the development of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). You can find more information about this issue in “Related Conditions.” Finally, being overweight is a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes and is largely preventable.