Family stress may play a part in a diabetesdiagnosis in infants and children. A study,reported in Diabetes Care (February 2005),found that psychological damage within familiesmay help initiate diabetes-related autoimmunityin infants. Furthermore, the strain acceleratedthe progression of the disease in childrenalready diagnosed with diabetes. More importantly,however, researchers observed this infamilies without a history of diabetes.
The researchers theorized that psychosocialstress in families "may affect children negativelydue to a link to hormonal levels and nervoussignals that in turn influence both insulin sensitivity/insulin need and the immune system."
For the study, the researchers studied thefirst 4400 consecutive 1-year-old children froma large population-based study. The children'sparents completed questionnaires at birth and1 year on several measures of psychosocialstress and socio-demographic background.Blood samples were taken at age 1 to identifytype 1 diabetes-associated autoantibodies.The results of the study found that infants withdiabetes-related autoimmunity were more aptto have negative psychosocial factors. Theassociation was also witnessed in children withforeign-born mothers or fathers with low educationlevels.