Type 1 and the environment

After my son developed type 1 a few years ago, I started reading research studies wondering if there was anything I could do to prevent my other child from developing the disease as well. I recently made a website summarizing the peer-reviewed, scientific evidence relating to the various factors that may increase or decrease the risk of type 1 diabetes. While some of these factors may look familiar, such as viruses, cow's milk, or vitamin D deficiency, others are not as well known, namely environmental toxins.

The website is www.diabetesandenvironment.org. I'm interested in meeting other parents who might be interested in the potential links between contaminants and diabetes, especially type 1.



I picked up the book Diabetes Rising earlier this year and skimmed through the opening chapter… and got a sinking feeling when I realized that the town the author focused upon in the opening (Weston, MA, and the surrounding communities of Sudbury, Woburn, and Lexington) were the very places I lived and worked in the years prior to and during my pregnancy with my son Eric, who was diagnosed at 18 months (he’s about to turn 3). The time frame of the rash of Type 1 diabetes diagnoses described in the book occurred while I was spending the majority of my daily life right in that community… drinking the water, breathing the air, etc. Can’t believe now that I didn’t know it was going on, but until Ray Allen’s son was diagnosed, it wasn’t even a blip on the local news radar screen! I can’t help but wonder if my autoimmune thyroid disease (which developed during my pregnancy) and Eric’s diabetes are related to the sorts of exposures that the book speculates about. We moved away from there just before Eric was born, but still… these things don’t tend to just disappear. So yeah… I’m interested!

Great work! Look forward to learning more.

Yes, I was intrigued by that part of Dan Hurley’s book also, and included a bit about it on the page on trichloroethylene on the website I mentioned. My husband grew up near there…
A number of studies have looked at the ability of contaminants to disrupt the thyroid; I think that’s pretty well documented. And thyroid disease is common in people with type 1 also.
It’s good to find someone interested! There must be more people out there! I just created a group on here and on facebook as well, called “diabetes and the environment.” Please join!


Thank you for starting this website. I took a quick read through, but plan to spend more time looking through each of the sidebar details this weekend.


Sarah, thanks so much for sharing this information. My son Santi falls in the category of those who have not had any relative with T1 and Doctors believe his diabetes was caused by a virus.

He was diagnosed last year, so we’re still getting used to living with the condition & learning about it. However, we can clearly recall the weeks before he was admitted to the hospital, he got flu like symptoms followed by fever & diarreah. We took him TWICE to see his pediatrician , and both occassions we were told it was a VIRUS. It wasn’t until the 3rd time that he was admitted to the hospital with a possible diabetes diagnosis.

It’s hard to imagine T1 can be trigered by a VIRUS, but further research shall be implemented. Thanks for your input, I’ll keep your site on my favorites to find out more. Elkin

There’s actually quite good evidence that some viruses can trigger type 1 diabetes, but I think it’s often only attributed to viruses whereas other factors aren’t considered. My son didn’t have any virus or anything before diagnosis, I still have no idea what caused it. Good luck!

There was an article in Boston Magazine sometime in late 2008 I think about the diabetes cluster in Weston, Wellesley, Newton, etc. I lived in Newton for 4 of the 5 years prior to my diagnosis at 22. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a strong environmental component. I haven’t read that book yet (I’m in grad school so my non-school reading is very limited) but will eventually.

My daughter had strep throat about 4 months before she was diagnosed and they said it is what caused her diabetes according to the a1c it fits the scenerio. We also have no history of type 1 in our family. I worry now if my other 2 daughters get sick especially with strep. According to my daughters endo though the summer she was diagnosed there was an increase in our area of type 1 diagnoses in girls around my daughters age. So it is hard to tell what caused her diabetes.

I had a hyperactive thyroid as a kid and had it removed at age 15. My husband’s nephew and his cousin’s daughter have type 1. Our oldest daughter doesn’t have anything (so far!), but our youngest was diagnosed with T1 about 3 months after having strep. I figure that my genes, my husband’s genes and the strep all played a role. I breastfed both my girls for about 1 1/2 years thinking it would protect them from lots of illnesses- go figure! Like you, whenever my oldest gets anything virus like- I start to worry! I am really interested in sarow’s website. There is so much unknown stuff we need to learn!