Diabetes in under 5’s set to double

A study out today in the Lancet medical journal predicts a ‘doubling of new cases of type 1 diabetes in European children younger than 5 years is predicted between 2005 and 2020, and prevalent cases younger than 15 years will rise by 70%.

Type 1 diabetes is a type of auto-immune disease, whereby the immune system selectively destroys cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. There are two lines of thought as to why this might happen. One is to do with external factors, such as infections or food allergies triggering the immune to ‘cross-react’ against pancreatic cells. It has been proposed that early introduction of foods, before the age of 4 months, might increase risk. Early introduction of milk, in animal studies, has been shown to increase incidence of Type-1 diabetes, but human studies have not confirmed this. Type-1 diabetics are much more likely to have coeliacs disease, (gluten-sensitivity). A recent study not only found that almost half of type-1 diabetes had anti-TG2 antibodies, which is a diagnostic marker of coeliacs disease, but also that the majority had deposits of these antibodies in their intestines. This might suggest that early introduction of wheat products might increase risk. Paediatric advice is to exclusively breast-feed for at least six months. The other line of thought is that rapid growth and overweight, lead to too much insulin being produced and this overload on the insulin-producing cells may lead to their self-destruction. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to a higher incidence of type-1 diabetes. Vitamin D is made in the skin in the presence of sunlight, and is also rich in oily fish. Once type-1 diabetes has occurred, although not reversible, the best type of diet to follow is my Low GL Diet. This diet keeps blood sugar levels more even and enhances the action of insulin, thus might lead to lessening insulin requirements. Read Preventing and Reversing Diabetes for more details.