cold-like virus could be a major cause of Type 1 diabetes, research suggests.
Australian scientists have found the enterovirus, which is common in young children, to be "strongly linked to diabetes".
Children with Type 1 diabetes were almost 10 times more likely to have the enterovirus infection than those without diabetes, found researchers, whose study is published online in the British Medical Journal (bmj.com) today (FRI).
Children with symptoms that indicate development of diabetes, called pre-diabetes, were around three times more likely to have the infection than others.
The researchers cautioned that the type of "observational" study they had undertaken, reviewing 24 studies involving 4,448 participants, could not prove "cause and effect" between the virus and diabetes.
They concluded: "Larger prospective studies are needed to establish a clear temporal relation between enterovirus infection and the development of autoimmunity and Type 1 diabetes."
Many people have Type 1, or juvenile, diabetes. The body stops making insulin, leading to very high glucose levels. If left unchecked, this can lead to coma and death.
It was already thought that Type 1 diabetes was a disease brought on by problems with the immune system.
Dr Iain Frame, director of research at the charity Diabetes UK, said: "It may well give us another piece of the jigsaw in working towards a better understanding of the causes of Type 1 diabetes which should in turn lead to new prevention strategies."