Environmental factors in the development of Type 1 diabetes

Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2006 Sep;7(3):149-62. doi: 10.1007/s11154-006-9024-y.


Environmental factors appear to play an important role in the pathogenesis of childhood-onset type 1 diabetes (T1D). The most important factors are thought to be infectious, dietary, perinatal, and psychosocial. Enteroviruses (especially Coxsackie B virus), breastfeeding, the early presence or lack of certain foods, birth weight, childhood over-nutrition, maternal islet autoimmunity, and negative stress events have been shown to be related to the prevalence of T1D. However, clear conclusions to date are limited because most studies lacked power to detect exposure/disease associations, were not prospective or long-term, did not start in infancy, had imprecise or infrequent exposure estimates, had confounding exposures, and failed to account for genetic susceptibility. In addition to the identification of specific antigenic triggers, several more general hypotheses, including the accelerator and hygiene hypotheses, are testable approaches worth pursuing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / etiology*
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Environment*
  • Female
  • Growth and Development / physiology
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / immunology
  • Psychology
  • Viruses / immunology