Relationship of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella and Type 1 Diabetes

Several studies have shown that type 1 diabetes in childhood often coincides with an increase in viral infections such as measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR).

In a recent study, Italian researchers aimed to confirm these findings in the Pavia district of Italy.

The research team looked at the link between any new cases of type 1 diabetes as well as new cases of measles, mumps, and rubella between 1996 and 2001.

Researchers analyzed data of children who were newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Children who participated in this study were between 0 and 14 years old, and they were enrolled in the Italian Insulin-dependent Diabetes Registry (RIDI) during those same years.

The results of their study were published online in early December 2011in the article “Type 1 diabetes and measles, mumps and rubella childhood infections within the Italian Insulin-dependent Diabetes Registry.” The article will appear soon in Diabetic Medicine.

The measles, mumps, and rubella infection rates were calculated using the estimated population at risk as the denominator. This was represented by the number of study participants who did not have the MMR vaccination.

Spearman’s rank correlation was used to examine the connection between type 1 diabetes incidence and measles, mumps, and rubella.

At first, the analysis of the data from all of the registries did not show any statistical significance between age-standardized type 1 diabetes incidence and estimated rates of MMR.

But when researchers excluded the data from the Sardinia Registry, they found a significant link between type 1 diabetes incidence and mumps (p=0.034) as well as rubella (p=0.014). However, there was no statistical significance between incidence of measles and diabetes rates (p=0.269).

Researchers noted that the statistical significance seen after excluding the Sardinia Registry data suggests that other environmental factors may be involved in populations who have different genetic susceptibility.