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What We Are Learning About Type 1 Diabetes

Bill Hagopian, MD, PhD, a researcher at the Pacific Northwest Research Institute (PNRI), is one of six scientists around the world participating in the TEDDY study (The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young). TEDDY follows more than 8,000 children — beginning at birth — to identify the environmental triggers of Type 1 diabetes, a metabolic disorder.

Families who participate in the study come to the clinic regularly to give samples and provide extensive data about illnesses, stress, and diet. Other countries involved in the study include Finland, Germany, and Sweden.

TEDDY’s Latest Discoveries

Since the study began over a decade ago, Bill and his colleagues have:

  • Found a link between diabetes and another autoimmune condition, celiac disease
  • Discovered how early life shapes the infant gut microbiome
  • Dispelled the notion that antibiotics increase the risk of developing Type 1 diabetes
  • Discovered signs that Vitamin D may have a protective effect against Type 1 diabetes onset

Discoveries made in the TEDDY study help doctors, researchers, and patients in the treatment and prevention of Type 1 diabetes. “Understanding the genetics of Type 1 diabetes and the clinical application means you can start to apply the results to patient care,” says Bill. “And that is the dream.”

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