The swine flu outbreak in 2009 may have predisposed people in Norway to have an increased risk of type 1 diabetes, according to new research.
Scientists from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and Oslo University Hospital say their findings indicate certain types of serious flu could be linked to the development of type 1 diabetes. However, they acknowledged that they don’t understand how the two conditions are linked; merely an association exists between the two.
The findings were presented in the form of a poster at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) 2017 conference.
Dr Paz Lopez-Doriga Ruiz and researchers analysed data between 2009 and 2014 from those aged less than 30 who were registered in the Norwegian health registries. Following the 2009 swine flu outbreak, 2376 people developed type 1 diabetes. The researchers claimed the risk of type 1 diabetes onset was doubled among those with previously diagnosed swine flu.
While the exact causes and triggers of type 1 diabetes are unclear, it is suspected that viruses can be an environmental trigger. Intestinal viruses and enteroviruses have previously been linked to having a role in the development of the condition.
“This study may support the hypothesis that respiratory infections can contribute to the development of type 1 diabetes, due to stress and inflammation in predisposed individuals,” said the researchers.
It cannot, though, be said that swine flu increases the risk of type 1 diabetes. There is no causal evidence and only an association was observed between the two conditions. Further research will be required to investigate this link further and understand it in greater detail.
The study has not yet been published in a scientific journal.

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