High levels of education are associated with an increased risk of latent autoimmune diabetes in adults: results from the Nord-Trøndelag health study.

Diabetes Care

PubMedID: 20937690

Olsson L, Ahlbom A, Grill V, Midthjell K, Carlsson S. High levels of education are associated with an increased risk of latent autoimmune diabetes in adults: results from the Nord-Trøndelag health study. Diabetes Care. 2011;34(1):102-7.
OBJECTIVE
To investigate whether the risk for autoimmune diabetes in adults differs between socioeconomic groups and to compare such risk with that for type 2 diabetes.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
The inhabitants of the Norwegian county of Nord-Trøndelag were investigated by questionnaires and clinical examinations on three occasions during 1984-2008. We used information from a subset consisting of 56,296 subjects (participating in at least two surveys), including 122 incident cases of autoimmune diabetes in adults (aged =35 and anti-GAD positive) and 1,555 cases of type 2 diabetes (aged =35 and anti-GAD negative). Hazard ratios (HRs) of diabetes associated with self-reported education and occupation were estimated by Cox proportional hazards models.

RESULTS
High levels of education (university versus primary school) were associated with an increased risk of autoimmune diabetes (HR 1.98 [95% CI 1.21-3.26]), after adjustment for BMI, lifestyle factors, and family history of diabetes. Case subjects with high levels of education had lower levels of C-peptide, tended to have higher levels of anti-GAD, and were more often treated with insulin. Conversely, these subjects had a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes (HR 0.69 [95% CI 0.57-0.82]), a risk that was partly explained by lower BMI and more physical activity (adjusted HR 0.89 [95% CI 0.74-1.06]).

CONCLUSIONS
High levels of education are associated with an increased risk of autoimmune diabetes in adults, a finding that may be mediated by effects on autoimmune activity. Because the association is not explained by traditional risk factors, other, currently unidentified, environmental factors are likely to be involved.