An increased risk of type 1 diabetes in children is linked to traffic-related air pollution, a study suggests.
Researchers at the Institute for Diabetes Research at the Helmholtz Centre, Germany found that high levels of dust pollution could affect the development of type 1 diabetes.
Data was analysed from 671 children with type 1 diabetes who were diagnosed between April 2009 and May 2013, with blood samples taken at diagnosis to test for certain inflammatory markers.
The children exposed to high levels of ambient air pollution from residential environments developed type 1 diabetes three years earlier, on average, than children from areas with low pollution levels.
The fine dust particles and nitrogen dioxide that the children were exposed to are categorised as traffic-related pollutants.
“Our results indicate that exposure to traffic-related pollutants accelerates the development of type 1 diabetes,” the researchers wrote. “Our results were independent from the level of urbanisation in the areas analysed.”
Other factors taken into account by the Helmholtz Centre team included the BMI of the children and their family history of diabetes. They found, however, that their results did not apply to very young children.
Air pollution has been classified by the World Health Organisation as the largest environmental health risk, with an estimated seven million deaths per year recorded due to air pollution.

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