Stress of divorce can 'triple risk' of children getting diabetes
Stressful life events in childhood such as death or illness in the family, divorce or separation can triple the risk of developing type 1 diabetes, research has suggested.
A study carried out in Sweden analysed more than 10,000 families with children aged between two and 14 who did not already have the condition and also looked at factors including whether there was any family conflict, change of family structure, interventions from social services or unemployment.
Parents were given questionnaires asking them to assess such serious life events, parental stress, worries and the parent's social support and 58 children were subsequently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
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Researchers said that, as it is unlikely such stressful events can be avoided, families need support to cope if such problems occur.
The study said that while the causes of type 1 diabetes are unknown, it is usually preceded by the body's own immune system attacking and killing beta cells in the pancreas, which produce insulin.
Environmental factors such as viral infection, dietary habits, birth weight and early weight gain, as well as chronic stress, have all been proposed as risk factors, and the new research aimed to examine whether psychological stress during a child's first 14 years of life might increase the risk.
They said that since rates among young children are increasing in most countries, environmental factors are being examined even more seriously.
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