I'm going to keep this post short and simple. I'm simply going to share some snippets of research that I have come across on this topic in my studies. For those who find it helpful, great! For those who don't, please carry on! This information is intended to provide a change for our future generations and reduce the unfortunate, increasing trend of childhood diabetes.
Overlooked Causes/Contributing Factors
First, to reduce future rates, we must of course look at some of the researched causes and contributing factors.
Studies are finding a link between infant vaccinations and increased risk for Type 1 diabetes. For decades, it has been known that viral infections and childhood diseases had the potential to alter a child's glucose metabolism. Other research has shown that the adjuvants (such as aluminum and mercury) are responsible for many of the lifelong chronic health problems in children. Other research demonstrates that the vaccine's negative effect on an infant's gut microbiome is what triggers illness. But in the end, there is adequate research demonstrating a specific link between childhood vaccinations and increased risk of type 1 diabetes. For example:
The hemophilus vaccine has been linked to the development of autoimmune type 1 diabetes, insulin dependent diabetes (IDDM) in ecological studies.
Most of the extra cases of IDDM appeared in statistically significant clusters that occurred in periods starting approximately 38 months after immunization and lasting approximately 6-8 months. Immunization with pediatric vaccines increased the risk of insulin diabetes in NOD mice.
CONCLUSION: Exposure to HiB immunization is associated with an increased risk of IDDM. NOD mice can be used as an animal model of vaccine induced diabetes.10
Lengthy research and more information on the link between childhood vaccinations and Type 1 diabetes can be found here: http://www.nvic.org/vaccines-and-diseases/Diabetes/juvenilediabetes.aspx
Maternal & Early Childhood Vitamin D Deficiency
In type 1 diabetes, studies of vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy and early childhood demonstrated a potential to reduce the risk of developing the disease.
The study revealed that vitamin D deficiency was considerably higher in T1DM children... Family history of vitamin D deficiency was considerably higher among T1DM children...Vitamin D supplement with breast milk was very poor in diabetic children...Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that fathers and mothers occupation, family history of DM, physical activity, low duration of time under sun light, breast feeding less than 6 months and low vitamin D level were considered as the main factors associated with the T1DM. In conclusion, the present study revealed that vitamin D deficiency was higher in T1DM children compared to non-diabetic...Vitamin D intake was very poor in children and it shows that supplementing infants with vitamin D might be a safe and effective strategy for reducing the risk of T1DM.1
Additional research states:
Dietary vitamin D supplementation is associated with reduced risk of type 1 diabetes. Ensuring adequate vitamin D supplementation for infants could help to reverse the increasing trend in the incidence of type 1 diabetes.2
Birth By C-Section
Children born by Caesarean Section have a higher risk for type 1 diabetes...Overall, our findings provide evidence that the mode of delivery influences the immune status and responsiveness during childhood.9
This is most likely due to the negative effects of caesarean section on an infant's microbiome. (See below.) Babies born via c-section (or vaginally even to mothers without healthy flora) start out life with a damaged microbiome and unhealthy flora.
Gluten-Free Diet's Potential to Reduce Risk & Symptoms
Celiac Disease occurs at a 5-10 fold greater prevalence in patients with type-1 diabetes.3
Additional research states:
The association between celiac disease (CD), an autoimmune condition involving intestinal inflammation related to gluten ingestion, and type 1 diabetes has long been recognized. CD prevalence rates 4 to 6 times greater in adults with type 1 diabetes than in the general population.4
Like Type 1 diabetes, celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that requires reduction of systemic inflammation for improvement of symptoms. Whether the patient has a positive celiac allergy or gut-mediated gluten sensitivity (which is common in those with negative celiac allergy tests), complete elimination of gluten is crucial for reducing the constant systemic inflammation in order to allow for the body to reduce the antibody attack and autoimmune symptoms.
Some people mistakenly believe that a negative celiac test means their body can tolerate gluten fine. However, conventional healthcare often does not consider these gut-mediated food sensitivities and test for IgA or IgM sensitivity to gluten. Therefore ,I recommend further testing (such as Cyrex Array) or simply complete elimination of gluten for those with negative IgE gluten test.
In this research, the decreased risk of Type 1 diabetes for infants whose mothers avoided gluten during pregnancy and lactation was assessed:
Early-life interventions in the intestinal environment have previously been shown to influence diabetes incidence... The early-life GF environment dramatically decreased the incidence of diabetes and insulitis... In conclusion, a GF diet during fetal and early postnatal life reduces the incidence of diabetes. The mechanism may involve changes in gut microbiota and shifts to a less proinflammatory immunological milieu in the gut and pancreas.7
Infant Feeding & Timing of Foods
There is some preliminary evidence detailing the risk of feeding babies improperly and an increased risk of type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease that results from the destruction of the β cells of the pancreas in genetically at-risk individuals. The autoimmune process that precedes the development of T1D is believed to be triggered by environmental factors, including nutrition. Early introduction of complementary foods has been implicated in the etiology of T1D as a possible explanation of the increasing incidence of the disease...5
Another study found that exposure to gluten before 3 months of age increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes:
Exposure to gluten-containing foods before age 3 months, which occurred in 19 children, increased the risk of developing islet autoantibodies (n = 4), multiple islet autoantibodies (n = 4), and type 1 diabetes (n = 3) compared to exclusive breastfeeding within the first 3 months.8
Because many autoimmune conditions are triggered by damage to the gastrointestinal system, we can assume that foods which are hard on an infant's gut health would increase the risk of autoimmune conditions such as Type 1 diabetes. Rice cereal, gluten-containing foods, foods containing refined sugars, infant formula, and foods fed too early to infants before their stomach possess proper digestive enzymes all have the potential to increase risks of any illness and disease in babies due to their effects on the gut and the immune system.
Several lines of evidence suggest a role for the gut microbiome in type 1 diabetes. Treating diabetes-prone rodents with probiotics or antibiotics prevents the development of the disorder. Diabetes-prone rodents also have a distinctly different gut microbiome compared with healthy rodents. Recent studies in children with a high genetic risk for type 1 diabetes demonstrate significant differences in the gut microbiome between children who develop autoimmunity for the disease and those who remain healthy.6
The common denominator in most, if not all, of this research is the role of the infant's microbiome and gut flora. Gut health significantly impacts our risk, or lack thereof, to autoimmune conditions. Anything that negatively impacts the microbiome, such as those things listed above (vaccinations, nutritional deficiencies, improper feeding/unhealthy foods) has the potential to trigger (either alone or collectively) an autoimmune condition such as Type 1 diabetes.
Improving Life of Those With It Currently
In addition to reducing rates of future cases, we can also take some steps that may improve the quality of life for those currently dealing with this devastating disease. Ultimately, the most important thing is to really focus on the gut microbiome--maintaining healthy gut flora and a closed intestinal wall. This means avoiding things that damage the epithelial cells in the gut wall (such as chlorine, refined sugar, gluten, antibiotics, etc.) as well as maintaining adequate intake of zinc, probiotics, and other nutrients that support proper gut health.
Correcting Vitamin D deficiency is important as well.
In order to greatly reduce our children's risk of chronic diseases such as this and change the future rates of these diseases, we must do everything we can preventatively to support their gut microbiome.
This information is provided in an attempt to help future parents lower the risk of their children having to deal with this difficult disease.
As a society, we must inform the future parents of the ways to do this!
Blessings of good health,
~Sara Jo Poff
Holistic Health Practitioner