Family stress may play a part in a diabetes diagnosis in infants and children. A study, reported in Diabetes Care (February 2005), found that psychological damage within families may help initiate diabetes-related autoimmunity in infants. Furthermore, the strain accelerated the progression of the disease in children already diagnosed with diabetes. More importantly, however, researchers observed this in families without a history of diabetes.
The researchers theorized that psychosocial stress in families "may affect children negatively due to a link to hormonal levels and nervous signals that in turn influence both insulin sensitivity/ insulin need and the immune system."
For the study, the researchers studied the first 4400 consecutive 1-year-old children from a large population-based study. The children's parents completed questionnaires at birth and 1 year on several measures of psychosocial stress and socio-demographic background. Blood samples were taken at age 1 to identify type 1 diabetes-associated autoantibodies. The results of the study found that infants with diabetes-related autoimmunity were more apt to have negative psychosocial factors. The association was also witnessed in children with foreign-born mothers or fathers with low education levels.
One study linked multiple pregnancies to an increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation later in life, and another investigated the association between premature delivery and cardiovascular disease.
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