A common vaccine given to babies could help reduce the risk of developing type 1 diabetes, researchers have said.

In the UK, babies are given two doses of the oral rotavirus vaccine to protect against the condition, which can cause diarrhoea and sickness.

US researchers from the University of Michigan analysed health insurance data collected from nearly 1.5 million babies between 2001 and 2017, comparing vaccinated children with unvaccinated children.

They identified a 41% reduction in type 1 diabetes among the infants who had been fully vaccinated against rotavirus compared to those who did not receive it.

Mary A.M. Rogers, associate professor in the internal medicine department at the University of Michiga, said: “This is an uncommon condition, so it takes large amounts of data to see any trends across a population. It will take more time and analyses to confirm these findings. But we do see a decline in type 1 diabetes in young children after the rotavirus vaccine was introduced.”

The trial was originally carried out to further investigate how effective the vaccination was in helping to prevent babies from developing stomach flu and avoiding hospital admission.

The research supports an earlier study looking at Australian children that discovered a 14% reduction in the risk of type 1 diabetes among young people after the vaccination was introduced in the country.

Professor Rogers added: “Five years from now, we will know much more. The first groups of children to receive the rotavirus vaccine in the United States are now in grade school, when type 1 diabetes is most often detected.

“Hopefully in years to comen, we’ll have fewer new cases – but based on our study findings, that depends upon parents bringing in their children to get vaccinated.”

The findings appear in JAMA Pediatrics.

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