Environmental causes of T1?

My daughter was diagnosed in Jan 2020, in Nov 2019 she had a cough/virus that would not fo away, lasted at least a month. Drs attributed that virus to triggering her Type 1 and she did test positive for antibodies.
Since then I have read ALOT about type 1. I have read about environmental causes but don’t quite understand what that means. As a mom, I worry and question many things… could my carpet cleaner have attributed to her getting Type 1, what about the round up we used on our driveway a couple times? Or the carpenter ant spray we sprayed one year? Please help me understand if these type of products could have attributed to it?
What if she hadnt gotten that virus, would something else at some point triggered the disease? I have so many of these types of questions and would love some clarification or names of books or articles to read.
Thank you!!

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Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that for some reason the body turns on itself. I’ve never heard about pesticides and those type of environmental factors contributing to our causing it, but some people are diagnosed following a virus which may have weakened their already compromised immune system. That’s the best way I can describe it at least.
I recently finished the book Think Like A Pancreas. The author is diabetic himself so had first-hand knowledge and experience, and he works in the medical field. I would encourage you to read it - it gives information about the different types of diabetes that require insulin, causes and treatment.
As far as getting to the bottom of what caused your child to develop it, that might be a discussion with your doctor. My personal, non-medical opinion is this: we are all exposed to “stuff” on a daily basis. Some people do as much as they can to eliminate or at least radically chemicals from their environment as a general health measure, but necessarily related to diabetes. That’s not possible for everyone, and not everyone wants such a commitment ; so thankfully our bodies do a pretty good job of protecting us from them, for the most part but sometimes something does “slip through.” Whether that causes diabetes specifically though we may never know. Again, my opinion, and a decidedly non-medical one at that.
A while back there was a post with “Root cause” in the title. I don’t recall the details but I believe the writer was asking about diagnosis and health prior. I apologize for lack of detail and will try to find the link and include it here later. In any case, the responses may be of interest to you. I hope you find what you are looking for, but would encourage you to look forward, to (and forward to) the future with your daughter.


Hi @cnagreen there are no articles or papers on the subject of the cause of Type 1 diabetes because there is no correlation between ANY physical or chemical or other “environmental” event and diabetes. There just isn’t. If someone says there is they are lying.

I deeply understand the need for causal information when it comes to our children. I also “get” the feeling that maybe you shouldn’t have had the guy spray for those bugs… but to put those things together to think it had any consequences on the onset of diabetes isn’t accurate.

Let me assure you that you did not cause your child’s diabetes.

It’s my opinion that it would be of better benefit all around if you re-focused your awesome interest and energy into awareness and Action. There is plenty of room for research, research funding, advocacy for school and job accommodations, and goodness knows for health insurance reforms and affordable insulin.

I’m only saying all this because I stared backwards after my diagnosis and it affected my life for over 25 years. I made a decision to look mostly forward to make changes to the things I can and I have to say it feels a whole lot better. Whatever you decide to do, cheers and good luck :four_leaf_clover:


Angela, both @wadawabbit and @joe have given you GREAT information. There is NO ANSWER to your question in today’s science. Forty, fifty, or maybe more years the answer may show its face. Until the answer shows its face in science, follow the advice of Joe and Dorie to focus your energy on learning everything you can about this crazy condition. Forget about trying to find a cause. History cannot be rewound.

The other FACT to keep in mind is you can do the exact same steps in the exact same situation and your daughters body will respond in three or more different ways. For example, she could eat the same meal three days in a row, dose the same, and have three different outcomes. This is how CRAZY diabetes is.

Best of everything. Keep us informed about your journey.


Hi Angela @cnagreen, as has been already written here, [paraphrase] there is nothing that you did, or didn’t do, that caused your daughter to develop Autoimmune Diabetes - referred to as TypeOne, type 1, Type A, Juvenile, Childhood, and just plain Diabetes successively during the past few decades; what we are calling TypeOne has been called many things during the recent 3,00 years.

Medical scientists have determined, and agree upon the “cause”, and are diligently searching for the “why”. The “cause”, put in simple terms, is that the autoimmune system in a few person’s body misidentifies beta cells produced in the pancreas as foreign invaders and launches an attack to kill them off.

The “WHY” that causes the autoimmune system to not recognize the insulin-producing beta cells as friendly creatures is a mystery that continues to baffle the world. In the 1950’s, Dr. Elliot Joslin [he opened the Joslin Diabetes Clinic more than a decade before the first insulin injection] was theorizing that “a virus” could possibly TRIGGER, or possibly speed up the process of a person’s body to attack the beta cells. Trigger, onset but NOT cause diabetes; current science appears to support his theory. If you have followed the links in the email messages you receive from JDRF Headquarters, you have read of the many funded studies attempting to find the “why” and progress to eventually finding means to prevent diabetes, or at least delay onset.

Some of the multiple forms “Lifestyle Diabetes” [referred to Type 2, Type B, Adult, etc.] are thought to be brought on by actions, environmental exposure, and other traits, but it has also been determined that something born into that person’s immune or autoimmune system [two different systems] is the actual “cause”. “Monogenic Diabetes” is another story altogether.


Thank you for the thoughtful response. I am about 3/4 of the way through of the book you mention and it has been helpful. Also, I do believe a virus is to blame as the trigger…
Good point on focusing forward!
Thanks again!

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Thank you for your response. I am glad I have this group to reach out to. It is difficult to know where to look online for correct information. I was recently in a tizz googling info on different household cleaners etc I had used based on an advertising ploy indicating that that stuff can cause endocrine disorders and diabetes. I do believe a virus triggered her autoimmune system to attack her beta cells, she was quite ill in Nov. with a respiratory virus, wheezing, etc for which we visited the Dr several times.
We are very fortunate our daughter is very good at math and doing very well! Of course as parents there is a sense of guilt (Although I realize not our fault) but the more I can learn from others, the more I can let that go and focus on the future.
Thanks again for taking time to respond.


Thanks Joe for the response and encouragement, very thankful that you share your knowledge!

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Hi @cnagreen. This thread popped up due to a recent response, and I had an additional thought - keep in mind I am not a medical professional but: Type1 is an autoimmune disorder - for some reason the body turns on itself. And sometimes - perhaps often - it’s an illness that causes that to happen.
Some people feel very strongly about going natural and eliminating man made chemicals from their environment, and there is nothing wrong with that - in fact it may be a very good idea, especially if you have natural alternatives that get the job done. But the idea is to keep the space clean, eliminate unwanted pests, or whatever, and as far as we/I know, sometimes something chemical treatment is required to get the job done. Now if you don’t use a treatment powerful enough to eliminate whatever it is, you may be exposed to something else that could also result in an illness, which in turn weakens the immune system, which in turn causes the body to turn on itself. So you may run a risk either way you go.
Aside from the occasional grandparent who honestly states they have never been sick a day in their life, despite our best efforts most of us will come down with something at some time - a simple cold, 48 hour bug, whatever - and that could be all it takes: despite our best efforts to keep in good health, in the nature of life, sometimes things just happen. Thankfully diabetes is something we manage on our own one we are knowledgeable about the tools.

@cnagreen, in re-circling posts, has your curiosity you first posted here been answered? Just checking.

Yes it has, as much as it can be I guess right?! I honestly think the virus she had in Nov/Dec was definitely the trigger. It is so hard at diagnosis not knowing much about T1d and not having answers for everything. I am trying to learn as much as I can and our daughter is doing great. Thank you for reaching out, I am thankful for this forum!


Here’s a link to a government webpage about a study linking early ingestion of cow’s milk to the onset of type 1 diabetes, in children. Even if this is/was the trigger for your child’s T1D, it wasn’t really your fault because it’s an innocent mistake. I find it interesting, though, because I had cow’s milk at a very young age. It could possibly be why I got T1D at age 10.

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