Latest study claims that viral infection in pregnant women can expose their babies to juvenile diabetes, as well as several autoimmune diseases.

An international team of researchers at the Tel Aviv University (TAU), University of Washington and the Lund University (Sweden) suggest that many autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto Thyroiditis, multiple sclerosis (MS) and celiac disease are associated with type 1 diabetes.

Professor Zvi Laron, Professor Emeritus of Pediatric Endocrinology at TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, who is also a researcher of the study, explains that they studied birth month seasonality for these autoimmune diseases in many countries including Israel.

The research group collected blood samples from more than 100 fit pregnant women. The researchers tested the blood sample for islet cell autoantibodies, which can indicate the occurrence of diabetes years in advance before early symptoms of the disease. The blood sample of the pregnant women was also examined for anti-CoxB3 and anti-rotavirus antibodies.

The study found that the seasonality of the birth of children who developed these autoimmune diseases and diabetes differ when compared to the general public. The study revealed that during winter months, when the rate of viral diseases are normally high, 10 percent of the participants who did not have any family history of autoimmune diseases were tested positive for damaging antibodies.

Professor Laron suggests that once their hypothesis is substantiated, then preventive vaccines can be developed, which can be administered before conception. This will help healthcare professionals to reduce the increasing type 1 diabetes cases as well as many autoimmune diseases.

"There is no cure for this diabetes, so true intervention would be important not only medically but also psychologically and financially, as the costs of the lifelong treatment of this chronic disease and other autoimmune diseases are great," says Professor Laron.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes is considered to be one of the most common chronic diseases adolescents and children. Around 151,000 Americans under the age of 20 years are believed to have diabetes. Each year over 13,000 people are treated with type 1 diabetes. People suffering from type 1 diabetes should take insulin injections daily or be on an insulin pump to survive.

Professor Laron revealed that they are planning for further research on the subject and also preparing to accumulate funds for study on about 1,000 infants and women.

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