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[IP] Day care may reduce risk of type 1 diabetes

     Day care may reduce risk of type 1 diabetes

Health News brought to you directly from
Reuters Health Information

NEW YORK, Aug 07 (Reuters Health) - Children enrolled in day care--who 
typically come in contact with an onslaught of germs--may have lower odds of 
developing type 1 diabetes due to a boosted immune response, preliminary 
research suggests.

In a review of 11 earlier studies, Canadian researchers found that day care 
attendance was linked to a 40% lower risk of developing type 1 diabetes by 
age 5. However, the researchers caution, this result was based on just two 
studies, as most of the studies they looked at differed too much to allow 
solid conclusions.

But they add that the results argue against the idea that early exposure to 
infections raises the risk of developing type 1, or juvenile, diabetes.

"We can reassure parents that day care doesn't seem to be causing excess 
cases of juvenile diabetes," Dr. Shayne P. Taback of the University of 
Manitoba in Winnipeg, told Reuters Health. "If anything, day care is 
protective--but that's still a big if whether those results are true."

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, a group of conditions that involve 
an abnormal immune system attack on the body's own healthy tissue. In the 
case of diabetes, pancreatic cells that produce the hormone insulin are 
destroyed, causing patients' blood sugar levels to rise dangerously high. 
Type 1 diabetes usually arises during childhood, and patients must inject 
synthetic insulin every day.

Why the immune system attacks the pancreas in the first place is unknown. 
Some researchers speculate that infectious agents might cause the immune 
system to malfunction and lead to diabetes, Taback said.

However, recent research has also suggested that being exposed early on to 
more germs, a common occurrence for children placed in day care, can 
actually help strengthen the immune system and lessen the chance of 
developing conditions such as asthma.

Asthma research has suggested the immune system is "better educated if child 
is exposed to more germs," Taback explained. "The same might be true of 

To investigate, he analyzed 11 studies that evaluated more than 1,550 
children with diabetes and around 4,700 without the disease. The findings 
are published in the August issue of Diabetes Care.

According to Taback, further studies are needed to track the development of 
type 1 diabetes in children enrolled in day care and those who are not. Such 
long-range studies are the only way to make a definitive link between day 
care attendance and diabetes risk.

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