To identify perinatal risk factors for childhood insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and determine if they differ between early-onset and lateonset disease.
We selected 258 diabetic children in Northern Ireland and 271 diabetic children in Scotland from population-based registers. For each diabetic child, five matched control subjects were drawn from the same population. All perinatal data were recorded routinely at birth. Odds ratios (ORs) were estimated for parental age, social class, breast-feeding, deprivation measures, and other perinatal variables.
Scottish data indicated an increased risk among children born to older mothers (OR = 2.43, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.49–3.97 for mothers >35 years of age relative to those <25 years of age). Northern Ireland data showed no such effect. Only Northern Ireland data showed an excess risk in children of professional or managerial families (OR = 1.51, 95% CI 1.11–2.04). A small but nonsignificant reduction in risk among breast-fed children was observed only after adjustment for social class (OR = 0.76, 95% CI 0.54–1.07). Deprivation measures were associated with reductions in risk. Children delivered by cesarean section were at increased risk in both Northern Ireland (OR = 1.66,95% CI 1.10–2.50) and Scottish (OR = 1.70,95% CI 1.12–2.59) data. In Northern Ireland data only, children of first pregnancies were at increased risk (OR = 1.41, 95% CI 1.03–1.93). Both data sets indicated that a first pregnancy was a more important risk factor for early-onset disease than for late-onset disease.
Many reported risk factors are weak and show inconsistencies between studies. They may be secondary to more direct, as-yet-undiscovered risk factors. Although irrelevant in the majority of cases, the increased risk associated with delivery by cesarean section deserves further study.