Diabetes and summer-borns

Published: Monday 31 January 2000

Those born in July and August are at a higher risk of developing insulin-dependent (type 1) diabetes later in childhood than those born in autumn. And boys are at a greater risk than girls, according to a study by Ulf Samuelsson and colleagues from the Linkoping University in Sweden. The cause of type 1 diabetes, which occurs due to insufficient pancreatic insulin production, is not known, though genetic, environmental and immune system factors play a role. The study strengthens the theory that environmental factors, such as exposure to viral infections very early in life, play a role in development of diabetes. The researchers speculate that pregnant mothers may be more vulnerable to certain viruses at different times of the year. Viral infection during pregnancy could have an effect on the immune system of the foetus, rendering a child more vulnerable to type 1 diabetes ( Archives of Disease in Childhood , Vol 81, No 2).

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