A Type 1 Diabetic’s Decision to Have Children


I’m surprised to find out how many men and women with type 1 diabetes feel having children is an irresponsible thing for them to do.  I understand many reasons for this.  I myself have felt that I would only one day have children if I could do it responsibly. 

For me, this meant acquiring tight glucose control prior to opening up a possibility for pregnancy and it meant not opening up a possibility for pregnancy if I didn’t have good glucose control or if my body was failing me. 

I feel blessed to have become type 1 diabetic at 11 years old rather than say, age one.  This means far less cumulative damage by child bearing age.  I also feel blessed to have found the right man at a relatively young age.  I used to think that I’d just adopt if the circumstances weren’t right for me.

Some people don’t want to have children simply because of the risk they might pass on their diabetes to their child.  I really understand this fear.  I had it, or rather, have it.  My decision in the matter was suppressed a little when I was told I’d probably never get pregnant and so after being surprised with having twins, I feel like it was “meant to be”.   I was nudged into having faith that no matter what happens, everything will be alright.  This doesn’t mean I don’t do mad amounts of research on how to minimize the risk for type 1 diabetes in my kids, though.

That is how it worked out for me and how I feel about my own situation.  When it comes to someone else’s decision, I like to think each type 1 diabetic knows themselves best and knows what the right decision is.  Or I hope so, anyway.

What I don’t think is right is someone telling me I’ve been irresponsible because I’ve had children.  Yes, I may have passed on a horrible gene.  I also might have passed down a musical genius gene from Frederic Chopin, since I’m related to him.  The point is, we can’t say that no diabetic should have children.  A life without suffering is not guaranteed no matter what our genes are.  And if you ask me, I’m glad I was born.  Yes, I’ve suffered, but that suffering created some of the best of me.  And it’s made my joys all the richer.  If I had the choice to start my life at 11 years old and do it all over again with diabetes, I would. 

What about you?  What do you think?

9 thoughts on “A Type 1 Diabetic’s Decision to Have Children

  1. John

    Really stupid, you not only expose your kids to the chance of getting type one diabetes but also numerous other auto immune conditions. I wouldn’t wish type one diabetes on my worst enemy, why would I risk transmitting this disease to my own flesh and blood. Thank my lucky stars I was able to get a vasectomy.
    I feel sorry for your kids already.

  2. John

    By the way, guy from above comment here, I am a twin aswell as a type one diabetic. My twin suffered from serious congenital medical conditions from birth and had cancer at 24. I have 3 other auto immune related conditions too. These days you can get screened to see if your partner also carries the recessive genes which could end up in complete catastrophe if you were to have kids, oops too late.

    I know I might sound like a cold bastard but I have to be because I am acting within selfless means and don’t feel the selfish desire to have kids in an already messed up and overpopulated world.

    I am so angry right now, you make me sick. I’m not a fucking troll either. I can’t wait for your reply.

  3. Sysy Post author

    I understand why you would feel that way, John. I feel differently because I’ve been overall very happy with my life, despite having diabetes.

    I’m sorry you have so many conditions to deal with. And I respect your decision to get a vasectomy.

    My A1c was at a non-diabetic level at conception and I maintained it there throughout the pregnancy. My children’s risk of diabetes is 1% compared with .3% with the rest of the population.

    I think you and I see having children as two different things. You call it a selfish desire. I learned when I had kids that there is nothing selfish about it. Kids are a lot of work and sacrifice and it’s a pleasure for my husband and I as a couple to bring them into the world, treat them well, feed them healthy foods, teach them what we know, and hope that they be a contributing force of peace and love in the world. It’s my hope that my children one day be nothing but kind and sincere and empathetic with someone like you.

    I wish you the best.

  4. J.P. Marat

    You excuse your decision to have children on the grounds that no one is guaranteed a life free of suffering, and of course, everyone realizes that. But for type 1 diabetics deciding to have children, they should concentrate on the massively increased risk that their child will not only suffer the ordinary course of misery in life, but also a life with type 1 diabetes, which makes life infinitely worse. Because of an evident inability to think quantitatively rather than just qualitatively, you appear incapable of reaching morally rational decisions.

  5. Sysy Post author

    Hi J.P.

    I don’t think my life has been made infinitely worse by type 1 diabetes. I love my life. You sound bitter about your life with type 1 diabetes and that guides your decision making. If that is how you feel about your life with type 1 then by all means, don’t procreate. We all have a unique situation, health wise, and I’ve made my decisions based on my health status, not another’s.

  6. kyle


    I do not have diabetes. I hope my children do not. But having loved a young woman with Type 1 diabetes and been to conferences where we were told that there are specialists you can see to reduce the risk of a childbirth with automatic Type 1… I feel there is no reason to be ashamed. While I would be thankful for children with or without, I felt it would be an adventure worth pursuing to try for children born free of Type 1. And if they had it? To grow strong and be able to support the woman I love and the child we had been blessed with.

  7. Sadie Smith

    I’ve heard that if you’re a type one diabetic and you have children, it could affect you in unpleasant ways. Does anyone know anything about this? My mother “advised” me not to have any children because of this.

  8. anonymous

    I didn’t know that you can minimize the risk of Type 1 diabetes in your children. Can you briefly outline the relevant factors for us? Thanks!

    (No diabetes in my family; just interested in genetics. I thought Type 1 diabetes was all genetic.)

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