Can A Common Type Of Virus Really Increase Your Risk Of Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a form of the disease in which the pancreas makes little to no insulin, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Your body uses insulin to transport glucose to cells to use for energy. When there is not enough or no insulin to make this happen, it causes high blood sugar, which can lead to diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is most common in children and young adults, but anyone can develop it. About 5% to 10% of the people with diabetes have type 1, and currently there is no way to prevent it.

Experts believe that the disease is caused by an autoimmune reaction that kills off the cells in the pancreas that make insulin (per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases). The CDC says some genes might make people more prone to develop diabetes, but the presence of these genes does not necessarily mean a person will become diabetic. They also point out that sometimes a trigger, such as a virus, can be a factor in developing the disease.

Study finds an association between enteroviruses and type 1 diabetes

A recent meta-analysis linked one type of common virus, called enteroviruses, with type 1 diabetes. The data, published in the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, showed a "clinically significant association" between enterovirus infections, type 1 diabetes, and islet autoimmunity, a condition that usually develops into diabetes. The analysis is the largest in its field, and it included data from 12,077 individuals from 60 studies, per Medical Xpress.

The findings showed that people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes were eight times more likely to have an enterovirus infection than people who did not have type 1 diabetes. Additionally, those with type 1 diabetes were 16 times more likely to be diagnosed with an enterovirus infection one month after receiving a diabetes diagnosis than people who did not have type 1 diabetes. Author of the study Sonia Isaacs, from the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, School of Clinical Medicine, University of New South Wales, Australia, told Medical Xpress that the results supported further development of vaccines to prevent islet autoimmunity, which could reduce the prevalence of type 1 diabetes.