Type 1 Diabetes May Be Caused by a Virus

Researchers have published a study revealing that type 1 diabetes may be caused by a common virus.

Published in Diabetologia, researchers found that children that had type 1 diabetes were more likely to have had an enterovirus infection prior to their body began developing type 1 diabetes.

An enterovirus is a type of virus that causes symptoms similar to the cold. However, other enteroviruses such as the polio virus, can cause serious damage to the body.

Researchers examined over 1,000 stool samples from 129 children who had recently developed diabetes. In the process, scientists discovered that 80% of all individuals who had enteroviruses antibodies were recently diagnosed with diabetes.

Consequently, the study showed that an enterovirus infection is an early sign for the disease. In addition, children with the disease were 300% more likely to have had multiple enterovirus infections prior to getting diagnosed.

The lead researchers in the study explained in a statement, “The present study suggests that enterovirus infections in young children are associated with the appearance of islet autoantibodies with a time lag of about 1 year. This finding supports previous observations from other prospective studies suggesting that enterovirus infections may play a role in the initiation of the beta cell-damaging process.”

The most common type of enterovirus found in individuals with type-1 diabetes were three different variations of the coxsackievirus including coxsackievirus A16, a virus known to cause hand, foot and mouth disease.

This is not the first time researchers have linked enteroviruses to type 1 diabetes. A 2011 study found a strong clinical link between enterovirus infections and type 1 diabetes. But, this study is one of the most conclusive studies connecting the two diseases together.

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a disease that is caused by the pancreas after the organ fails to produce enough insulin. With over 200,000 cases per year in the US, without enough insulin the body, cannot effectively process sugar in the body. Someone with type 1 diabetes may experience vomiting, frequent urination, blurred vision, increased hunger, and unexplained weight loss. In order to treat type 1 diabetes, many people have to take insulin injections in order to control their blood sugar. It’s important to note that there is no cure for the disease.