Patients with type 1 diabetes are ten times more likely to suffer from cold-like enterovirus infections than healthy people, an Australian study has found.

Researchers from the University of New South Wales and the Institute of Endocrinology and Diabetes, based in Sydney, reviewed data from nearly 4,500 patients, concluding that there was a strong association between the two conditions.

The incidence rate of type 1 diabetes has increased over the past 25 years at an annual rate of 3%, without explanation.

It has therefore been suggested that environmental factors such as drugs, toxins, nutrients, and viruses can play a role in the pathogenesis of the disease.

But, the study, published by the British Medical Journal did not prove that the virus causes diabetes.

Researchers acknowledged that larger prospective studies would be needed to establish a clear temporal relation between enterovirus infection and the development of autoimmunity and type 1 diabetes.