Aims: To investigate perinatal risk factors for childhood Type 1 diabetes in a UK population cohort.
Methods: Perinatal data have been routinely recorded in Northern Ireland for all births in the period 1971-86 (n = 447 663). Diabetes status at the age of 15 years was ascertained in this cohort by identifying 991 children from 1079 registered with Type 1 diabetes diagnosed from 1971 to 2001 and date of birth in the period 1971-86.
Results: Increased Type 1 diabetes risk was associated with higher maternal age, paternal age, birth weight and birth weight for gestational and lower gestational age. After adjustment for maternal age, the association between Type 1 diabetes and paternal age remained significant [relative risk (RR) = 1.52 (1.10, 2.09) comparing father's age 35 years or more to less than 25 years] but not vice versa [RR = 1.11 (0.80, 1.54) comparing mother's age 35 years or more to less than 25 years]. Increased birth order was associated with a significant decrease in the risk of Type 1 diabetes [adjusted RR = 0.75 (0.62, 0.90) comparing birth order three or more with firstborn], but this only became apparent when adjustment was made for maternal age. Furthermore this association with birth order was significant only for diabetes diagnosed under the age of 5 years.
Conclusions: Our analysis demonstrates, for the first time in a UK regional cohort setting, that maternal age and paternal age at delivery, birth order, birth weight and gestational age are significantly associated with Type 1 diabetes risk.