Does the Air We Breathe Contribute to Type 1?

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Researchers suggest that exposure to ozone and sulfate in the air may predispose children to type 1 diabetes. They add that passive smoking in the household is also a risk factor.

The researchers said that zip code-related, time-specific birth-to-diagnosis exposure to five ambient air pollutants was obtained for 102 children with type 1 diabetes and 300 healthy children receiving care at a single hospital. They identified each geographic location where study subjects lived from the day they were born to the day they developed diabetes in order to get accurate information on exposure to pollutants over time.

Children exposed to ambient ozone and sulfate were 2.89 and 1.65 times more likely to develop type 1 than the healthy children. In addition, exposure to passive smoking was more frequent in children with diabetes than in the healthy children (30 percent vs. 10 percent).

Pediatric Diabetes, April 2006


Eba Hathout, MD, FAAP, was the lead researcher on this study

What can we learn from this study?

Air pollution is likely to be a risk factor for the development of type 1 diabetes, though results from many centers are needed to confirm these findings. Local efforts to detoxify our environment need to be pursued not just nationally, but internationally, to prevent a worldwide epidemic.

What steps can be taken to remedy this problem?

Efforts for a cleaner environment are needed, and parents living in high-risk areas should limit their children’s outdoor activities during peak ozone hours.


Top 10 Most Ozone-Polluted U.S. Cities

  1. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, Calif.
  2. Bakersfield, Calif.
  3. Fresno-Madera, Calif.
  4. Visalia-Porterville, Calif.
  5. Merced, Calif.
  6. Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, Texas
  7. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Truckee, Calif., Nev.
  8. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
  9. New York-Newark-Bridgeport, N.Y., N.J., Conn., Pa.
  10. Philadelphia-Camden-Vineland, Pa., N.J., Del., Md.

Source: American Lung Association

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