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We almost lost our son who is 10 years old now, when he was 14 months old to a viral something they never figured out what, that caused vomiting and incredible diarrhea. An over-the-counter drug called parepectolin and a lot of IV fluids were all that saved him. Looking back now I can see that he began presenting tiny signs of diabetes shortly after that, which progressively worsened over time until he was diagnosed. I think that he may have been predisposed from birth.

Is it possible that the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine could be a trigger to the precipitation of the onset of diabetes that might not have occurred until much later in life?


It is indeed possible that the episode of severe gastroenteritis which you describe precipitated the earliest clinical signs of diabetes: it is unlikely though that it effected the basic immunological change because of the short time interval between the infection and the apparent early symptoms.

It is possible too that whatever triggered the diabetes in a genetically predisposed infant may have occurred in utero, there is a case for this with maternal rubella. Other viruses have not been implicated largely because of the difficulty of defining the virus in both mother and infant and from the fact that antibodies in an infant are maternal and transient.

There is no work that implicates routine immunization in initiating diabetes and these days when nearly all children are routinely immunized, it would be difficult to study the possibility because of the problem of assigning a random control group.

Despite much progress, the process by which the body's immune system comes to perceive islet cells as 'non-self' is not yet understood in molecular terms and until it is the cause of the disorder will not be clear. Happily it now looks as though we may learn to interrupt the process before we can comprehend it.


Original posting 20 Sep 96


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