A study examining the effectiveness of a stomach flu vaccine also found that the vaccine seemed to lower the risk of the development of type 1 diabetes by 33 percent. The researchers emphasize that these findings would need to be further examined and verified, however.
According to a press release, the original purpose of the study was to examine the effectiveness of an infant vaccine used since 2006 to shield against rotavirus. To study this, University of Michigan researchers examined the insurance records of 1.5 million children born before and after the vaccine had been introduced, and found that the vaccine did shield against rotavirus.
However, the researchers also noticed a 33 percent lower risk of the development of type 1 diabetes for those children who had received the vaccine. That would translate to eight fewer cases of type 1 diabetes per 100,000 people, lead researcher Mary Rogers, PhD, stated in a HealthDay report.
This research is in line with earlier laboratory findings that show rotavirus attacks insulin-producing beta cells in a fashion similar to the way the immune system attacks beta cells during the development of type 1 diabetes. Also, earlier this year, Australian researchers announced that a similar study found that the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine in that country resulted in a 14 percent reduced risk of the development of type 1 diabetes. Dr. Rogers, a University of Michigan research associate professor of preventive medicine, said more study would be needed to verify these initial findings.
While this is good news, it’s important to note that the mechanisms for the development of type 1 diabetes are complicated and still not fully understood. Further research might be needed, for example, to see if the rotavirus vaccine reduced the risk of developing type 1 diabetes over a full lifetime, for example. Also, there are many different opportunities for the autoimmune system to misfire and attack beta cells in those genetically prone to type 1 diabetes – this 14 percent drop might only reflect the partial or complete elimination of one risk factor for the development of type 1 diabetes.
Still, any possible way to reduce the risk of developing type 1 diabetes is welcome news in the quest to prevent the chronic disease.