Finnish study examines links between type 1 diabetes and asthma

Jack Woodfield
Mon, 19 Jun 2017
Finnish study examines links between type 1 diabetes and asthma
New light has been shed on the association between type 1 diabetes and asthma by an international study.

The two conditions have been linked by previous studies but now research from Finland suggests having asthma increases the risk of type 1 diabetes by 41 per cent. Those with type 1 diabetes, however, have a decreased risk of developing asthma by 18 per cent.

Dr Johanna Metsala, from the National Institute for Health and Welfare based in Helsinki, is the lead researcher in a study which has just been presented at the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Congress 2017.

Metsala told delegates: "The association between asthma and type 1 diabetes is more complex than we previously thought. Prior asthma increased the risk of type 1 diabetes, but prior type 1 diabetes decreased the risk of subsequent asthma. This association was seen at all ages. This was a fairly novel observation."

Metsala said all previous research on the links between the two conditions had not thrown up conclusive evidence about the relationship between asthma and type 1 diabetes.

Her team combed through Finnish health records looking at children born between 1981 and 2008 who had either type 1 diabetes or asthma by the time they were aged 16 or the year 2010.

They examined a pool of 171,138 children as part of a sample representing 10 per cent of youngsters born between those years. In total, 80,871 children had asthma, while 8,939 had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The team also found that 602 had both conditions.

Professor Peter Vuillermin, a pediatrics specialist from Australia's Deakin University, attended the conference and commented: "I think comparing them and trying to understand what the similarities and differences are is likely to be really informative. It would be also nice to know if there's a link across other allergic conditions that use different medications, such as food allergy."
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