Objective: To determine if rainfall and temperature anomalies are associated with epidemics of type 1 diabetes among children in the US Virgin Islands.
Methods: Data on rainfall and temperature anomalies (deviation from normal level in inches and Celsius, respectively) that affected the US Virgin Islands from 1980 to 2005 were compared to corresponding annual age 0 to 19 incidence rates of Type 1 diabetes using second-order response surface polynomial (SORSP) modeling, contour plot and Poisson regression analysis.
Results: An unreported epidemic of childhood type 1 diabetes was found to have occurred in 1996 and 1997. In the SORSP analyses, rainfall anomaly (F=3.79, p=0.0266), temperature anomaly (F=5.16, p=0.0038), and the cross product of rainfall and temperature (F=11.24, p=0.0032) predicted annual type 1 diabetes incidence rates. In the contour plot, the highest rates (epidemics) corresponded with the highest deviation from normal rainfall and lowest deviation from normal temperature. Poisson regression modeling indicated that temperature anomaly was not associated with Type 1 diabetes incidence independent of rainfall anomaly.
Conclusions: Epidemic-like surges in childhood Type 1 diabetes cases occur in the U.S. Virgin Islands when climatic conditions produce above normal rainfall in conjunction with below normal temperatures.
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