Air Pollution Linked to Higher Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Latino Children
A new study says that Latino children living in areas with high amounts of air pollution are at a heightened risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers found a link between high levels of air pollution and a breakdown of beta cells, crucial to insulin maintenance.
The study followed Latino children for 3.5 years and assessed how chronic the air pollution levels were as well as risks of diabetes, including beta cell production and lifespans.
By the time children living in areas with high levels of air pollution turned 18, they had far less efficient pancreatic cells.
The chronic pollution exposure over time meant that the children were, on average, 13 percent less efficient at making insulin and managing insulin levels within their bodies. This risk factor gives those children, now young adults, a much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
"Exposure to heightened air pollution during childhood increases the risk for Hispanic children to become obese and, independent of that, to also develop Type 2 diabetes," said Michael Goran, co-director of the Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and corresponding author of the study.
The study was published in the journal Diabetes last month and is the first study to follow children for years while tracking a connection between air quality and diabetes risks. The children assessed were living in neighborhoods that the Environmental Protection Agency says have excess nitrogen dioxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) in the air, mostly from fuel-burning vehicles.