Researchers from the universities of Newcastle and Leeds Scientists analysed 25-years’ worth of data on more than 4,000 young people in Yorkshire with type 1 diabetes.
They found some evidence of clustering. There were 6 to 7 per cent more cases of Type 1 diabetes in the clusters than would have been expected by chance. Between 7 and 14 per cent more cases than expected occurred in clusters in females.
This pattern, “space-time clustering”, is typical of conditions triggered by infections. Conditions caused by more constant environmental factors produce clusters of cases in one place over a much longer time.
The results, published in Diabetologia, should help towards understanding more about the causes of Type 1 diabetes.
Simon O’Neill, the director of care and policy at Diabetes UK, said: “This research reinforces the idea that common infections and environmental factors also play a part.”
A quarter of a million people in the UK have Type 1 diabetes, which develops if the body cannot produce insulin. It usually appears before the age of 40.