Geographical study on childhood type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) in Finland
1University of Oulu, Faculty of Science, Department of Geography
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|Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Science, University of Oulu, for public discussion in the Auditorium GO 101, Linnanmaa, on March 20th, 2004, at 12 noon.
Professor Markku Löytönen
Doctor Clive Sabel
Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) among children is of a particular importance in Finland, where its incidence is the highest in the world and still increasing. However, the aetiology of T1DM is not fully known. According to current knowledge, both genetic and environmental factors operate together, leading to an attack by the immune system on the insulin-producing beta cells.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the geographical variation in the incidence of T1DM among children aged up to 14 years in Finland. Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Bayesian spatial statistics were applied in a search for unusual spatial patterns and risk factor associations.
The incidence of T1DM among children aged up to 14 years showed clear geographical variations in Finland. Living in a rural environment increased the risk for T1DM, and the risk was particularly high among children living in rural heartland areas. There was no association between the variation in T1DM incidence and the zinc and nitrate concentrations of drinking water. A male excess in the incidence of T1DM was seen in the low-incidence areas. The geographical variation in the risk of T1DM was marked only among children aged up to 9 years.
Because genetics is a necessary but not a sufficient cause of T1DM, it could be hypothesized that there are some thus far unknown environmental risk factors affecting particularly younger children in Finland. Some of those factors may be related to a rural environment. The geographical variation in the M/F ratio of T1DM was a challenging observation and warrants more analytical study.
Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. A, Scientiae rerum naturalium
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