Risk of diabetes type 1 'can be tripled by childhood stress'
Stressful life events in childhood such as family break-up, death or illness, can triple the risk of developing type 1 diabetes, research suggests. In a study, researchers found that children who experienced an event associated with “major stress” were almost three times more likely to develop the condition than those who had not.
The Swedish study analysed more than 10,000 families with children aged between two and 14, who did not already have the condition. The aim was to pinpoint any family conflicts, unemployment problems, alteration of family structure, or intervention from social services. Subsequently, 58 children were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
The causes of type 1 diabetes are unknown but it is usually preceded by the immune system attacking and killing beta cells in the pancreas, which produce insulin.
Based on the results, the researchers, from Linkoping University, said they thought the stressful events could contribute to beta cell stress due to increased insulin resistance as well as increased insulin demand due to the physiological stress response, such as elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
In the paper, published on Thursday in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes), the authors write: “Consistent with several previous retrospective studies, this first prospective study concludes that the experience of a serious life event (reasonably indicating psychological stress) during the first 14 years of life may be a risk factor for developing type 1 diabetes.
“The current study examined serious li Continue reading