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Childhood Infection and Type 1 Risk

Scientists don't yet know what triggers the development of type 1 diabetes, but one theory is that childhood infections set off the autoimmune reaction that destroys insulin-producing cells while another places the blame on diet. Now a study suggests that the trigger may, in fact, be a little of both. Researchers measured blood levels of autoantibodies, specific proteins that are a sign of type 1 diabetes, in almost 2,000 babies with a family history of the disease. They also recorded the children's illnesses and eating patterns. They found that gut infections increased the risk that a child would carry diabetes autoantibodies, but there was an odd catch. The gut problems that increased the risk of developing type 1 appeared to be linked to the consumption of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, in infants younger than 9 months. The researchers concluded that infections may only increase risk for type 1 if the gut is already inflamed by reactions to certain foods.
Source: Diabetes Care, published online Oct. 5, 2012



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