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HELSINKI, Oct 16 (AFP) - One of the main causes of juvenile, or Type 1, diabetes is infection brought on by an enterovirus, Finnish researchers said Thursday, citing results from a survey of 75,000 people conducted over nine years.
Enteroviruses are common viruses that most often infect people without causing illness or disease and usually go undetected.
In Finland, one in 135 children is diagnosed with diabetes before reaching the age of 15, a rate that is several times higher than the world average.
The Finnish research team undertook its work after noting that while a large number of Finns have a genetic predisposition to Type 1 diabetes, only a small proportion of those with the predisposition end up suffering from the disease.
Therefore the team sought to find other causes that could lead to the high frequency of the disease in Finland.
It found that, in addition to enterovirus infections, diet, vitamin D deficiency and childhood obesity can also play a role in developing the condition,according to the Finnish news agency FNB citing one of the researchers, Helsinki University professor Mikael Knip.
Knip said a baby's exposure to cow's milk and certain types of grains during its first four months could also trigger Type 1 diabetes later in life.
Of the 75,000 Finns that participated in the nine-year survey, about 6,200 were genetically predisposed for diabetes, but only 100 have been diagnosed with the disease, Knip said.
Through screenings, the researchers have been able to identify 70 percent of those who have or who are likely to get the disease, he added.
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