Antibiotics Use Linked to Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease diagnosed in young adults and children, sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes. Out of 30 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the US, only about 5 percent are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Type 1 is not understood very well, what we do know is that both genes and environment are a factor. Type 1 diabetes is known to have spiked following World War II and is thought to have been the after effect of food rationing during this time. Worldwide today, type 1 diabetes is increasing by 3 percent every year.

New Research is Discovering an Association Between Diabetes and Antibiotics

In the recent years, a rise in antibiotics prescriptions has also been linked to chronic illness as well as antibiotic resistance. One study even found that antibiotics have been prescribed to children about twice as often as they should be. From acne to viral infections, it seems that antibiotics overuse is a widespread problem.  

A recent study published in the Nature Microbiology journal this week has found the first link between type 1 diabetes and antibiotics use. The study took place at the New York University Langone Medical Center and was led by Dr. Martin Blaser.

In the study, one group of mice was given low dose antibiotics similar to the dose children receive and one group of mice was given no antibiotics. Over time, the gut bacteria of the mice given antibiotics showed huge change which also affected the mice’s immune system. The mice given antibiotics also developed type 1 diabetes. These results evidently show that doctors need to think twice before prescribing antibiotics to children. “They carry not only the risk of resistance, which is a cost to the whole community, but possibly health risks to the child,” said Blaser. This preliminary study shows that the findings will no doubt influence the future of pediatrics and the way in which antibiotics are prescribed. “We’re eager to see how these findings may impact the discovery of type 1 diabetes preventative treatments in the future and continued research in the area of vaccines,” said Jessica Dunne, the director of Discovery Research at Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has called it the ‘Perfect Storm’ and in one excerpt of their abstract, they state “the provision of antibiotics, such as fucidic acid, Colistin, and Bactrim, in BB rats after weaning (8,9) lead to diabetes prevention, whereas in our own efforts using the NOD mouse, a decreased frequency of type 1 diabetes was observed with the administration of doxycycline. The specific mechanisms of how such therapies modulate disease are unclear, but it is clear that changes in the microbiota affect the development of autoimmune diabetes in both animal models.”

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