Aims/hypothesis: Case reports have linked influenza infections to the development of type 1 diabetes. We investigated whether pandemic and seasonal influenza infections were associated with subsequent increased risk of type 1 diabetes.
Methods: In this population-based registry study, we linked individual-level data from national health registries for the entire Norwegian population under the age of 30 years for the years 2006–2014 (2.5 million individuals). Data were obtained from the National Registry (population data), the Norwegian Patient Registry (data on inpatient and outpatient specialist care), the Primary Care Database, the Norwegian Prescription Database and the Norwegian Surveillance System for Communicable Diseases. Pandemic influenza was defined as either a clinical influenza diagnosis during the main pandemic period or a laboratory-confirmed test. Seasonal influenza was defined by a clinical diagnosis of influenza between 2006 and 2014. We used Cox regression to estimate HRs for new-onset type 1 diabetes after an influenza infection, adjusted for year of birth, sex, place of birth and education.
Results: The adjusted HR for type 1 diabetes after pandemic influenza infection was 1.19 (95% CI 0.97, 1.46). In the subgroup with laboratory-confirmed influenza A (H1N1), influenza was associated with a twofold higher risk of subsequent type 1 diabetes before age 30 years (adjusted HR: 2.26, 95% CI 1.51, 3.38).
Conclusions/interpretation: Overall, we could not demonstrate a clear association between clinically reported pandemic influenza infection and incident type 1 diabetes. However, we found a twofold excess of incident diabetes in the subgroup with laboratory-confirmed pandemic influenza A (H1N1).
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