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South African Journal of Science

On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
Print version ISSN 0038-2353


DJAROVA, T.; DUBE, S.; TIVCHEV, G.  and  CHIVENGO, A.. Frequency of stressful life events as risk indicating factors for the onset of type 1 diabetes in African children. S. Afr. j. sci. [online]. 2007, vol.103, n.7-8, pp.286-288. ISSN 1996-7489.

A total of 42 children aged 6–15 years with type 1 diabetes, and 49 control children aged 6-14 years, participated in this study. Life events during the year prior to the clinical onset of type 1 diabetes that occurred within the family were recorded on a survey consisting of 45 questions. The mean frequencies of these life events were higher in diabetic children (7.7) than in the healthy control group (4.9). Diabetic children were found to experience higher relative frequencies of stressful life events within the range of 38-48%, compared with the children of the control group (range 8-16%). The highest relative frequency of 55% for both groups was the birth or adoption of a brother or sister. Life events involving actual or threatened losses within the family, such as serious illness or death of the mother, death of brother or sister, or hospitalization of mother or father, showed significantly increased frequencies in the diabetic group (range 10-30%) than in control children (range 4-10%). We propose that these stressful life events may be factors that precipitate severe emotional stress, increasing consequent risk of later development of type 1 diabetes.

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