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Prev Chronic Dis. 2005 Apr;2(2):A19. Epub 2005 Mar 15.

Family history, diabetes, and other demographic and risk factors among participants of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2002.

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  • 1Michigan Department of Community Health, PO Box 30195, 3423 N MLK Jr Blvd, Lansing, MI 48909, USA.



Family history of diabetes has been recognized as an important risk factor of the disease. Family medical history represents valuable genomic information because it characterizes the combined interactions between environmental, behavioral, and genetic factors. This study examined the strength and effect of having a family history of diabetes on the prevalence of self-reported, previously diagnosed diabetes among adult participants of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 199-2002.


The study population included data from 10,283 participants aged 20 years and older. Gender, age, race/ethnicity, poverty income ratio, education level, body mass index, and family history of diabetes were examined in relation to diabetes status. Diabetes prevalence estimates and odds ratios of diabetes were calculated based on family history and other factors.


The prevalence of diabetes among individuals who have a first-degree relative with diabetes (14.3%) was significantly higher than that of individuals without a family history (3.2%), corresponding to a crude odds ratio of five. Both prevalence and odds ratio estimates significantly increased with the number of relatives affected with diabetes. Family history was also associated with several demographic and risk factors.


Family history of diabetes was shown to be a significant predictor of diabetes prevalence in the adult U.S. population. We advocate the inclusion of family history assessment in public health prevention and screening programs as an inexpensive and valuable source of genomic information and measure of diabetes risk.

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