Gut Bacteria in Young Diabetic Kids Show Differences

Findings suggest diet might someday play preventive role, researchers say

THURSDAY, June 12, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new study finds that germs in the guts of young children with type 1 diabetes are different from those of other kids.

Bacteria in the guts of kids with type 1 diabetes appear less balanced than bacteria in children without diabetes, Dutch researchers reported in the June 12 issue of Diabetologia. Moreover, the nondiabetic children had higher levels of a usually beneficial kind of germ.

Germs in the gut may be important because research has linked changes in their composition to the development of type 1 diabetes, which is increasing worldwide. There has been a sharp rise in diagnoses seen in children under age 5 in particular, the researchers, from University Medical Center Groningen, said in a journal news release.

The findings suggest dietary changes might ultimately reduce the risk of developing type 1 diabetes in children with genetic risk for the disease, according to the researchers.

While more work needs to be done in determining what foods are best for ideal gut conditions, "we think a diet high in fruits and vegetables is best as these are rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates," the study authors wrote, adding simple sugars and excessive protein and animal fat may be harmful.

People with type 1 diabetes have elevated blood sugar levels because their body doesn't produce insulin, a hormone needed to convert food into energy.

The study set out to examine the makeup of gut bacteria in European children, ages 1 to 5 years old, who were recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The researchers looked at DNA in fecal samples collected from 28 diabetic children and 27 similar kids without the chronic disease.

Diabetic children younger than 3 years old had higher levels of certain bacteria, but lower levels of other types thought to be beneficial, the study found.

More information

For more about Type 1 diabetes, try the American Diabetes Association (http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-1/ ).

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: June 12, 2014, Diabetologia, news release

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