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November 18, 2002

Research: Causes and Prevention

Question from Martinsville, Indiana, USA:

I read recently about research that was conducted which indicated a higher incidence of type 1 diabetes in homes using well water. We live in the country and have well water at home, and there are two other children (who likely have well water also) in my daughter's elementary school with type 1 diabetes. Is three out of a population of 450 students unusual? Do you believe that we should take precautions with our son who does not have diabetes as far as using our well water for drinking?

Answer:

Nitrates and nitrites are both listed as potential environmental triggers for type 1A (autoimmune) diabetes, although I have not been able to find any confirmatory studies which would be difficult to do because of the numbers required, See Longnecker MP, Daniels JL. Environmental contaminants as etiologic factors for diabetes. Environ Health Perspect 2001 Dec;109 Suppl 6:871-6.

These salts may be present in excess in well water and it should be possible for the State Public Health Department to determine this for you. I would not move to bottled water until this has been done.

DOB