The aim of this study was to investigate environmental risk factors in the development of type 1 diabetes mellitus in a population-based case-control study. Parents of all patients with manifestation of type 1 diabetes between 1989 and 1994 in Vienna were asked to complete a questionnaire (n = 114). Control children (n = 495), matched for age and sex, were randomly recruited from all schools in Vienna. Fathers of diabetic children were significantly older at the time their children were born than fathers of control children (P = 0.015). Children with diabetes were more likely to be second- or third-born children (P<0.05) and fewer went to kindergarten than the control group children (P = 0.007). No significant difference in duration of gestation, percentage of delivery by caesarean section, birth weight or length was found. Neonatal jaundice was more often observed in the patient group (P = 0.038). Breast feeding was reported by 82.7% of mothers of diabetic children and by 81% of mothers of control children, and the duration of breast feeding was longer in patients than in controls (n.s.).
Conclusion: In our study, the development of type 1 diabetes mellitus was associated with higher paternal age and neonatal jaundice. No correlation could be found with dietary intake of cow's milk products in early infancy, vaccination and other environmental factors.