When we’re little, we have generally have no choice in where we have to live, which means that we can’t control what environment we are exposed to. A new study from German researches has showed that children growing up in areas where air pollution levels are high or get higher over a period of time is tied directly to raises in the risk of insulin resistance, and thus diabetes, in children. The research was published in “Diabetologia,” which is the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD).
Now, this isn’t the first time researchers have identified that there are major links between air pollution and other chronic conditions such as atherosclerosis and chronic heart disease. However, these past epidemiological studies that examined associations between long-term exposure to air pollution and type 2 diabetes in adults are inconsistent; and studies on insulin resistance in children are scarce due to the leeriness of specialists concerning research done on children.
The head of the research team, Heinrich, discussed in the article how “although toxicity differs between air pollutants, they are all considered potent oxidisers that act either directly on lipids and proteins or indirectly through the activation of intracellular oxidant pathways.” The stress produced by exposure to extreme amounts of air pollutants may in fact play a major role in the development of insulin resistance, especially in young children.
In this new study, researchers took blood samples from 397 10-year-old girls and boys in a cohort studies. Exposure to traffic-related air pollutants at their birth address were estimated by analysing a combination of emission-levels from road traffic in each of their neighborhoods, population density and land use in the area, as well as the association between air pollution and insulin resistance. This was calculated by the research team by using a model which took into account things like the socioeconomic status of each family, initial birthweight, pubertal status, second-hand smoke exposure at home, and BMI.
To quickly summarize the data for you, insulin resistance levels tended to increase with increasing air pollution exposure, and this remained high even after the adjustment for the other potential negative factors, including socioeconomic status, BMI and passive smoking.
Luckily for us, the results of this study support the notion that the development of diabetes in adults might have its origin in early life and include negative environmental exposures.
If you’re a number lover, I suggest you check out the full data here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130509184817.htm