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From Copenhagen, Denmark:

Four months ago my six year old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. My wife's younger sister has had Type 1 since age nine and her father (the grandfather of my child) and his brother and sister are also Type 1, making it four Type 1 adults on mother's side of my girl's family.

My question is this: Is there anything at all we should do to try and prevent our younger daughter (2 years old now) from developing Type 1 diabetes as well? (Of course we don't know if she is genetically at risk.) Or should we just take it easy and hope for the best?

I've been reading about experiments with BCG vaccine at the Barbara Davis Center. My wife had the shot when she was a kid, whereas her sister did not get it. Makes us wonder.


Without doing any further testing of your smaller daughter, her overall risk is about 1:30, or, to put it in another way, not terribly likely. Currently, there are a number of trials being conducted in Europe and North America to verify the possibility of:

  1. a secondary prevention of Type 1A diabetes, i.e., to assess whether insulin dependency can be deferred (e.g., the DPT-1 and ENDIT studies) by some kind of "vaccination" (e.g., with oral or subcutaneous insulin or BCG) and/or
  2. a tertiary prevention, i.e. to see if the impact of chronic complication of the disease can be diminished by early diagnosis and treatment.
We are not able so far to implement a full trial of primary prevention of Type 1 diabetes, i.e., to halt the causative agent from beginning the very early initial destruction of the beta cells, because we don't know exactly the genetic and environmental factors that initiate the disease. Perhaps, the ongoing trial on primary prevention of type diabetes with milk modified formula in high risk newborns (TRIGR) and the other high risk newborn large cohort studies (DAISY and BABYDIAB) could be able at the end of the follow ups to answer the question about the etiology of Type 1 diabetes and natural history of the disease. Until then we are not allowed to draw any firm conclusion on preventive strategies. You can find more material on Type 1 diabetes and his prevention, BCG and in general, on the web and at the pages and links at children with DIABETES.

I hope this gives you a glimpse of a very complex and rapidly expanding field.


Original posting 16 Mar 1998
Posted to Research: Causes and Prevention


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:56
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