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Early Respiratory Infections Linked to Type 1 Diabetes Risk

MONDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- Respiratory infections in the first year of life are associated with an increased risk of islet autoantibody seroconversion among children at high risk of type 1 diabetes, according to a study published online July 1 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Andreas Beyerlein, Ph.D., from the Technischen Universität München in Germany, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study involving 148 children at high risk of type 1 diabetes with documentation of 1,245 infectious events during their first three years of life. The correlation between early, short-term, or cumulative exposure to episodes of infection and fever with the initiation of persistent islet autoimmunity was assessed.

The researchers found that respiratory infections during the first six months of life and from age 6.0 to 11.9 months were associated with an increased risk of islet autoantibody seroconversion (hazard ratio, 2.27 and 1.32, respectively). There was no meaningful effect for any infectious category in the second year of life. An increased risk was also seen with a higher number of respiratory infections in the six months before islet autoantibody seroconversion (hazard ratio, 1.42).

"In conclusion, our study identified respiratory infections in early childhood, especially in the first year of life, as a risk factor for the development of type 1 diabetes," the authors write. "We also found some evidence for short-term effects of infectious events on development of autoimmunity, while cumulative exposure alone seemed not to be causative."

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