T1d cause by steroid?

My daughter age 12 recently diagnosed after a respiratory infection treated with antibiotics, albuterol and steroid burst- 60mg first day, then tapered. I have read that steroids can increase blood sugar levels. Could it be that the prednisone put too much pressure on the pancreas to make the insulin and this somehow caused the Type 1?? I cannot find much about this online, curious what others have been told or think. I know T1d is autoimmune disease, so perhaps coincidence or the virus caused it.

Hello @cnagreen Angela and welcome to TypeOneNation.

No, steroids do not cause type 1 diabetes. If anything, steroids prevent the autoimmune system from destroying beta (insulin producing cells) because steroids suppress the autoimmune system. Steroids also dramatically increase insulin resistance. A normal pancreas does not get tired, nor does it get worn out.

Type 1 is caused by the autoimmune system mistakenly destroying beta cells. Once the autoimmune system has these antibodies, all insulin producing cells are destroyed, regardless of age, weight, diet, exercise, or any other attributes often confused with type 2 diabetes. Type1 means you must inject insulin for the rest of your life.

Type 1 does not always run in families or have strong genetic dominance. The onset of type 1 often coincides with some illness such as a flu or virus but is not related to that virus.

I hope you have access to a great endocrinologist and CDE. Please feel free to reach out as the members here are here to help and we have thousands of years of collective experience.


@cnagreen Hi Angela and welcome to the TypeOneNation Forum!

As @Joe said, the steroids with which your daughter was treated did not cause her diabetes; the “virus” she had may have been a trigger that brought her “autoimmune diabetes”, currently referred to as Diabetes. One of the first diabetes-lectures I attended many decades ago discussed what Dr. Elliot Joslin thought about trauma and/or virus as being triggers for diabetes; I wish I still had his book published in 1954 that was my introduction to diabetes.

Steroids do play havoc for people living with diabetes - the steroid can cause [at least in me] some very unstable blood and body glucose readings. An example of steroids NOT causing diabetes could be my granddaughter who carries my genes; she was born very premature [22 weeks] without an immune system and only a partial lung - her treatment for the past 23 years has been HEAVY doses of steroid yet she does not show any sign of diabetes.

Keep in mind that “immune system” and “autoimmunity” are not the same thing even though they sound alike. Take me for example, during my seven decades living with diabetes, I have rarely been sick, had the “common cold” or any other virus - I have a very strong immune system although I have an autoimmunity disease - T1D.

From time-to-time Angela, you may see me offering suggestions, insight, caution to people living with diabetes, but be aware that I AM NOT a medical doctor and your management of your daughter’s diabetes should be in the hands of medical professionals; what I offer is what I’ve experienced.

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I had a Coxsakie flu virus that left me so weak I could hardly stand up and so thirsty I could drink a gallon of water. I’d say the virus itself triggered T1 diabetes.

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Hi @cnagreen Angela
I agree with the three responses above. An autoimmune disease is not caused by steroids; however, a precipitating event such as a viral infection, combined with steroids, may actually trigger the onset of T1D. Autoimmune diseases often have a genetic component, which combined with a trigger, result in onset of the disease. Unfortunately, these are generally not preventable.

Welcome to this forum; @Joe is a regular contributor and has years of diabetes management under his belt. I’m into my 45th year and there have been many changes over that period of time. I’m hoping you find the support you are seeking. And, please, make sure to assemble a CDE and endocrinologist who listen to you and respond to your concerns

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Everyone has given great responses. The steroids can’t cause it…however, they may have caused an already affected and prediabetic pancreas to work harder and ‘punk out’. My experience with a son diagnosed with type 1 just 3 mos ago, and needing 3 courses of oral steroids for asthma flare ups, he has needed more insulin after each course. Most likely, his pancreas got pushed through the honeymoon period faster. Going forward, if your daughter needs to use steroids again, be prepared for high BGs.


Thanks for the response and great info!

Thanks for your response! Appreciate you sharing your knowledge with a newbie!

Fifty years ago I developed a bad case of the flu and ended up with T1D. Last year I had the flu with complications and had to take steroids and my blood sugar was out of sight. I was told that viruses can cause diabetes and that was surely the case with me.

Hi Angela,
I’m 57 years old and I’ve only had type one for 2 1/2 years. I was an school teacher my entire career and the last few months I was working I kept catching virus after virus. I ended up with something called lingual tonsils and the ENT told me that it’s my body trying to fight off a virus. A few months later when I was diagnosed with T1D I found out that When your body can’t fight off a virus your immune system can attack your pancreas and make it stop producing insulin. Don’t know if in your daughters case it was a coincidence but thought that might clear things up a little bit for you. Good luck and stay strong!