Air Pollution Exposure during Pregnancy and the Risk of Type 1 Diabetes in the Offspring

written by Sarah Howard
Coordinator of the Diabetes-Obesity Spectrum Working Group

Sarah HowardAn important new study was just published, the first study to look at whether or not air pollution exposure during pregnancy is associated with the later risk of type 1 diabetes in the offspring. The study found that both ozone and nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels at the mothers’ places of residence during pregnancy were associated with an increased risk of type 1 diabetes in their children.

Note that this study was conducted in southern Sweden, an area of relatively low pollution levels. It also shows that environmental exposures in the womb may play a role in the development of type 1 diabetes later in life.

This study follows a few others that have found that children’s exposure to air pollution is associated with an increased risk or acceleration of type 1 diabetes. For example, a study from Los Angeles found that birth-to-diagnosis exposure levels of ozone and sulfate air pollutants were associated with type 1 in children; a study from Chile found that fine particulate matter levels were associated with type 1 in children; and a German study found that exposure to particulate matter and nitrogen oxides accelerated type 1 diabetes in very young children.

Air pollutants are also linked to type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, insulin resistance, higher blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, more complications from diabetes, and even higher mortality from diabetes.

For sources and more information on this topic, please see http://www.diabetesandenvironment.org/home/contam/air.

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