Innocent bystander: How childhood diarrhea can trigger diabetes

(Photo credit: Room 202 via Flickr)
(Photo credit: Room 202 via Flickr)

Over the course of our lives — and especially during childhood — illnesses tend to come and go. Toddlers will bring home a cold from daycare one year, develop a mild skin rash the next, and maybe get a bout of the flu a couple of years after that. In most cases, our immune system dispenses with such infections and sees us through to recovery. No need for long-term management or daily drug regimens.

Childhood diarrhoea is usually one of these illnesses. It can be nasty, but for the most part, nothing more than an unpleasant rite of passage for small children — quickly forgotten after a day or two.

Type 1 diabetes is in a different category altogether. Instead of being short-lived, type 1 diabetes is a life-long condition. After onset, which usually occurs in childhood, type 1 diabetes requires daily injections of insulin and careful monitoring of diet and blood glucose levels.

In the latest episode of Up Close I was joined by Associate Professor Barbara Coulson, who has been investigating an intriguing link between, rotavirus, a virus that causes short-lived diarrhoea in children and the onset of type 1 diabetes — a condition that stays with people throughout their lives.

Listen to the podcast or read the transcript here.


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