Cold virus linked to type 1 diabetes
While the causes of type 1 diabetes are not known for certain, a new analysis backs the possibility that cold-like viruses might trigger the disease.
Type 1 diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic factors, the immune system and environmental factors. Some previous studies have found a link between diabetes and the enterovirus, while other studies have failed to establish the connection. Enteroviruses are common viruses in infants and children that can cause cold or flu symptoms, fever, muscle aches, rash or even meningitis.
To test if enteroviruses could lead to type 1 diabetes, American researchers using a type of research known as a meta-analysis, reviewed 24 papers and two abstracts involving 4,448 American individuals to see if there was an association between type 1 diabetes and enterovirus infection.
A strong association was found between enteroviruses and the development of type 1 diabetes. In fact, children with diabetes were 10 times more likely to have had an enterovirus infection than children without the disease. Children with prediabetes were three times more likely to have the virus than those without diabetes.
Recently, there has been a worldwide increase in the incidence of childhood type 1 diabetes, especially in children under 5 years, which could be partially because of more exposure to these viruses. However, it is unclear whether enteroviruses are involved in all patients or just some. Enteroviruses could act as inducers of the disease or as accelerators of the progression of the disease. A persistent infection or consecutive infections could play a role. Further studies are needed to identify the specific enterovirus that is present in children with Type 1 diabetes in the hopes of developing a vaccine for the disease. Researchers also noted it is important to figure out whether the virus is associated with all cases of Type 1 diabetes or just some of the cases.
If this research proves correct, it could give credence to the "hygiene hypothesis," a theory that suggests the rise in Type 1 diabetes is due to improved societal hygiene. The theory claims that in the past, when hygiene wasn't as good as it is today, mothers passed more protective antibodies to their babies. With fewer antibodies, children are more susceptible to developing Type 1 diabetes.
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