Swine Flu: A Trigger for Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is known to be an auto-immune condition where the immune system destroys the beta cells of the body that essentially contribute to stabilizing blood glucose levels. It is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. In fact, annually as many as 65,000 people are known to contract the condition.

What is not known about the condition is its causes and what can trigger the same. Most of the researchers based out of Norway and other areas believe that the problems caused in the respiratory tract owing to various infections or stress could be cited as one of the causes linked to type 1 diabetes.

Besides, the researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Norway suggest that although genetic factors are responsible for the condition, there are certain environmental factors that have to trigger the appearance of type 1 diabetes. They consider several viral infections, including H1N1, popularly known as swine flu to be that trigger. This belief led to the development of a new study in order to find out the association between swine flu and the occurrence of type 1 diabetes.

swine flu

The results of the study conducted on the Norwegian population between the time period June 2009 and June 2014 were shocking. It suggested that after the swine flu spread across the region in 2009, as many as 2,376 people who were aged somewhere in between 30 years or younger were detected with type 1 diabetes. In addition, people who were affected by the national pandemic were 18% more susceptible to getting type 1 diabetes. The studies also revealed that children aged 15 years or younger have an even greater chance of getting diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. They carried 25% more risks.

The studies conducted by Paz Lopez-Doriga Ruiz and colleagues further showed that the influenza patients in Norway who were subject to primary care had fewer chances of developing type 1 diabetes later in their lives as opposed to those who had been hospitalized whose risk was far higher. The lack of seriousness of influenza in the primary care patients coupled with the fact that the patients in the primary care did not actually suffer from swine flu exposed them to a lower risk of contracting type 1 diabetes.

Whatever may be the reason, it is quite clear for now that swine flu exposes its patients, particularly children, to a greater risk of contracting type 1 diabetes!!

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