Factors Associated with Maternal Reported Actions to Prevent Type 1 Diabetes in the First Year of the TEDDY Study

  1. the TEDDY Study Grouph
  1. a Department of Pediatrics, Morsani School of Medicine, University of South Florida
  2. b Pediatric Epidemiology Center, Department of Pediatrics, University of South Florida
  3. c Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, University of Colorado Denver-AMC and Colorado School of Public Health, Dept. of Community and Behavioral Health
  4. d Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Sweden
  5. e Institute for Psychology, Graz University, Austria
  6. f Department of Pediatrics, University of Turku, Finland
  7. g Department of Medical Humanities and Social Sciences, Florida State University College of Medicine
  8. h See appendix
  1. Corresponding Author: Laura B. Smith, E-mail: lsmith5{at}


Objective Mothers of children at-risk for type 1 diabetes report engaging in preventive behaviors. The purpose of this study is to further document these actions in an international, longitudinal sample and examine variables that predict whether mothers engage in these behaviors. Research Design and Methods: The current study examined an international sample (Finland, Germany, Sweden, USA) from a naturalistic, longitudinal study, The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in Youth (TEDDY) Study, which tracked children genetically at risk for type 1 diabetes from birth to age 15 years. Mothers of 7,613 infants aged 6 months and 6,503 infants aged 15 months completed questionnaires assessing psychosocial factors and actions intended to prevent diabetes. Results: Many mothers (29.9% at 6 months and 42.8% at 15 months) reported engaging in a behavior intended to prevent type 1 diabetes, with the largest percentages (20.9-29.2%) reporting making changes to their child’s diet (e.g., reducing the consumption of sweets and carbohydrates). Factors related to engaging in preventive behaviors include: older maternal age, higher maternal education, minority status, having only one child, having a first degree relative with type 1 diabetes, being from a country other than Sweden, having an accurate perception of the child’s increased risk for developing diabetes, postpartum depression, maternal anxiety, worry about the risk of diabetes, and belief that diabetes can be prevented. Conclusion: Findings from this study suggest that many mothers engage in actions to prevent diabetes and highlight the importance of tracking these behaviors to ensure the validity of naturalistic observational studies.

  • Received February 22, 2013.
  • Accepted September 11, 2013.

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