The causes of type I diabetes in children, an autoimmune disease, is of immunological origin. Type I diabetes destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, thus destroying the ability of the pancreas to secrete insulin to use glucose. Glucose is the simple sugar that most foods are broken down into, by the digestive system.
- The process of development of the disease is gradual.
- Some attribute juvenile diabetes to genes.
- The genetic factor must be fused with other factors to lead to type 1 diabetes.
- The development of diabetes may be looked at in five stages—genetic predisposition, environmental trigger, active autoimmunity, progressive beta cell destruction and presentation of the symptoms of Type 1 diabetes. This implies that while children with Type 1 diabetes may have a genetic predisposition to the disease, it is the environmental factors that trigger the disease. Usually, the Coxsackie B Virus, related to polio, is considered as an environmental cause of Type I diabetes in children. This virus affects by producing antibodies in the blood that indicate an allergy of the body also known as an autoimmune condition. Islet cell, GAD (or 64-K) and ICA 512 antibodies are very often seen in children with Type 1 diabetes. These cause an attack on the body’s own beta cells.
- Other causes of Type 1 diabetes in children may be rooted in various viruses such as mumps, measles, rubella and Epstein-Barr virus that may also attack the beta cells.
- It is significant to note that apart from these different kinds of viruses, chemicals such as the rodenticide vacor, streptozotocin and pentamidine, alloxan are also environmental triggers of Type 1 diabetes.
- A food preservative called nitrosamine and a protein found in cow’s milk are potential causes of Type 1 diabetes in children. This is the reason doctors recommend that children below one year should avoid cow’s milk.
- Finally, type I diabetes mellitus may be a result of poor diet. A diet lacking in wheat and vitamin D, as well as, a short breast-feeding span in case of newborn babies may lead to diabetes in the long run.
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