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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
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
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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