Causes of Type I Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic disease which is identified by the presence of high levels of blood sugar. Diabetes is of mainly three types, Type I, Type II and Gestational Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes occurs when the pancreas ceases to produce insulin. The patient suffers from high level of sugar in the body due to body’s failure to produce insulin. Patients of Type I Diabetes need to have insulin injection to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. This type of Diabetes is also known as ‘insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus’ and was formerly called ‘juvenile diabetes’ because Type I Diabetes typically starts at an early age. Type I Diabetes occurs as a result of many causes, some of which are mentioned below
Cause 1: Autoimmune
Type I Diabetes: a progressive autoimmune disease. The pancreas contains Islets of Langerhans and within those Islets are beta cells. These beta cells are where insulin is produced. The insulin then works to metabolize glucose and sugars contained within foods ingested by the patient. In a healthy non-diabetic, the process is regulated by the pancreas and increases and decreases the insulin production normally. In diabetics however, the body’s own immune system attacks the beta cells within Islets of Langerhans and the pancreas is unable to produce any insulin on its own.
Cause 2: Genetics
Researches have shown there are at least 18 genetic locations related to Type I Diabetes. They are called IDDM1 – IDDM18. This region has HLA genes, which are responsible for the encoding of proteins. These genes affect the body’s autoimmune responses. Though scientists are not able to explain Diabetes fully by genetic factors, it is widely believed they play an important role in the development of Diabetes. If a patient has a first-degree family member, such as a parent or sibling, with diabetes, then he/she has a higher risk of developing Diabetes.
Here are the percentages of your having diabetes if a first degree family member has/had Type I Diabetes: Your father has Type 1: Your risk is 10%. Your sibling has Type 1: Your risk is 10%. Your mother has Type 1 (and was under the age of 25 when you were born): Your risk is 4%, Your mother has Type I (and was over the age of 25 when you were born): Your risk is 1%. However, in the case of identical twins, if one twin is diagnosed with Type I Diabetes, the other has a one in three chance of being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
Cause 3: Viruses
Research is underway to determine fully if viruses are responsible for the development of Type I Diabetes in genetically susceptible patients. Enteric Viruses, which attack the intestinal tract as well as Coxsackie Viruses, Rubella and Mumps are all implicated.
Though not everyone who suffers from any of the fore mentioned viruses develops Type I Diabetes, and this vulnerability is not shared by everyone, Type I Diabetes has been traced to particular HLA genotypes. The connection between viruses and Type 1 Diabetes is still being studied and is at this time not fully understood.
Cause 4: Environment
When two bodies share the same genome and yet not the same disease, researchers have come to think that it’s possible that environmental factors play a role in the development of the disease. In a long term study of identical twins, if one twin had Type I Diabetes, the second twin had only a 33% chance of the disease. Environmental factors such as climate and infant diet are thought to be causes of Type I Diabetes and are being carefully studied today.
Cause 5: Ethnicity
The most comprehensive study to date on Diabetes and Ethnicity is the National Health Interview Survey. Results of the study indicate that in the U.S. it appears that Hispanics and Blacks have an increased likely hood to have diabetes than the non-Hispanic white population. The report further states that those of American Indian and Native Alaskan residents have a higher probability of the disease than any other ethnicity. Finally, the report states that descendants of the Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans have a significantly higher risk of developing Type I Diabetes than the non-Hispanic white population.
Other conditions, which may lead to Type I Diabetes are pancreatitis, pancreatic surgery, and certain industrial chemicals. These conditions could lead to damage of pancreas and ultimately to Diabetes. Some medicines such as corticosteroids, beta-blockers, and phenytoin may also lead to development of diabetes.
Some genetic disorders including Klinefelter syndrome, Huntington’s chorea, Wolfram syndrome, leprechaunism, Rabson-Mendenhall syndrome may also lead to Type I Diabetes. Other factors increasing the risks of Type I Diabetes include hormonal disorders such as hyperthyroidism, somatostatinoma and other such conditions.