The biggest of its kind study that analysed information from a register of over 4,000 people has added weight to the theory that environmental factors such as common infections may be a trigger for diabetes in children and young adults.
The findings of the study were based on data collected of children and adults aged 0-29 years old diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes over a 25-year period.
The study was a collaborated effort of researchers from researchers from Newcastle and Leeds Universities and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, who carried out a sophisticated statistical analysis using information from the register on the times and places where the children and young adults were diagnosed.
They found that a pattern emerged where 'clusters' of cases were found at different geographical locations and time intervals for 10-19 year olds, and that there were six to seven per cent more cases of Type 1 diabetes found in 10-19 year olds in the clusters than would have been expected by chance.
They also found that females with the condition were more likely to occur in clusters with seven to 14 per cent more cases than expected found in young girls and women aged 10-19 years.
Lead study author, Dr Richard McNally, of Newcastle University's School of Clinical Medical Sciences (Child Health) said that the research had taken boffins a step closer into understanding the disease.
"This research brings us closer to understanding more about Type 1 diabetes.
However, it's just one piece in the jigsaw and much more research is needed before we can identify which infections may be to blame and thus inform advice on preventative measures. The condition is likely to be caused by an interplay of factors, of which infections are just one element," he said.