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From Kentucky, USA:

We found out about 6 months ago that our 12 year old daughter had type 1 diabetes. No one in my husband's family or mine has type 1 or type 2 diabetes. We have been told that viruses can cause diabetes. My daughter had H.Pylori that went undiagnosed for almost 2 years. Could this have caused her diabetes? The doctors tell us there is no proof, but if H.Pylori is the severe virus we were told it is, couldn't that have caused it? Is there any link between these two? Thank you for responding.


I am assuming that your daughter has what is now called Type 1A or autoimmune diabetes, which is by far the commonest form amongst Caucasian children in the US. Susceptibility to this is conferred by a group of genes on the short arm of chromosome 6 called the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC).

However actual clinical diabetes needs to be triggered by some additional environmental factor which explains why there is often no obvious family history in most new onset cases. There is a big national study going on to try to find out what this factor is with so far no clear pointers, though early exposure to certain kinds of cow's milk still has an appeal. There have been many claims that the trigger is some viral infection; but except for intrauterine rubella these have not been substantiated: the difficulty is that the conversion from susceptibility to the earliest clinical phase is known to occur months or even years before insulin is needed. There is also confusion because an acute viral infection in the final stages of prediabetes may precipitate a need for insulin without in any way being responsible for the basic autoimmune problem. It is interesting that you bring up the question of Helicobacter pylori. In some studies, that have been predominantly Europaean, H.Pylori has been shown to be associated with antibodies to parietal cells in the stomach and to thyroid antibodies. Some investigators have thought it to be a marker of a wider spectrum of autoimmunity called the antibody test; but in the circumstances it might be worth discussing with her doctor the possibility of doing a thyroid test and two additional antibody tests for anti 21-hydoxylase and antitransglutaminase. All this may sound rather complex; but if you feel equal to some technicalities you might like to look for a much more complete explanation at the book by Dr George Eisenbarth at You can access it about half way down the index of the research section on the page.


Original posting 21 Mar 1999
Posted to Research: Causes and Prevention


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