Exposure to air pollution raises the risk of resistance to insulin, a warning sign of diabetes, a study of almost 400 German children suggests.

In the study of 10-year-olds, insulin resistance climbed 17 percent for every increase of 10.6 micrograms per cubic meter in ambient nitrogen dioxide and 19 percent for every increase of 6 micrograms per cubic meter in particulate matter. The findings were published last month in Diabetologia, of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

The study adds to previous research that showed a link between traffic-related air pollution and the development of diabetes in adults. Those studies showed that exposure to fine pollution particles that invade the breathing system and the heart and blood vessels increases inflammation, which may be linked to insulin resistance, said Joachim Heinrich of the German Research Center for Environmental Health, one of the study authors.

In diabetes, blood-sugar levels are too high. In the Type 1 form, the body can't produce insulin, the hormone used to convert blood sugar into energy. In Type 2 diabetes, the body either can't produce enough insulin or becomes resistant to its effects. - Bloomberg News