Viral Infections in Infants Increase Risk of Developing Type 1 Diabetes

(HealthDay News) — Respiratory and viral infections in the first 6 months of life may increase the odds of a child developing type 1 diabetes by nearly 20%, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The new study included information from claims data on infants born between 2005 and 2007 in Germany. The database used covers approximately 85% of the German population, the study authors said. During that time, 295 420 babies were born. Over a follow-up period of about 8.5 years, 720 children developed type 1 diabetes.

Nearly all (92.9%) of the children had at least 1 infection in their first 2 years of life, as did 96.7% of those who developed type 1 diabetes, the researchers found. Children who had a respiratory infection during the first 6 months of life had 17% higher odds of getting type 1 diabetes later. Those who had a viral infection in the first 6 months had a 19% higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes, compared to children who didn’t have a viral infection early in life.

“It could be that the viruses are somehow miseducating the immune system,” lead author, Andreas Beyerlein, PhD, from the Institute of Diabetes Research in Munich, told HealthDay.


  1. Beyerlein A, Donnachie E, Jergens S, Ziegler AG. Infections in early life and development of type 1 diabetes. JAMA. 2016;315(17):1899-1901. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.2181.