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August 30, 2001

Research: Causes and Prevention

Question from Muskego, Wisconsin, USA:

I am 33 years old, have had type�1 diabetes for 25 years, I have a nine month old daughter who is starting to eat table foods, and I am wondering about dairy products. I am breastfeeding her and do not plan on giving her cow's milk to drink until after the age 12 months, but I am not so sure about cheese, yogurt, etc. Also, because my daughter had low blood sugar and jaundice at birth, we supplemented her with formula for about one and a half weeks. I have read all the statements saying there is no clear connection between cow's milk and type 1, but I am worried that this little bit of formula greatly increased her risk.

Answer:

It is impossible to know if any small amount of formula produced any sustained risk for your child, but it sounds like there was not much option so I would not feel guilty at all. It was more important to protect her from hypoglycemia as a neonate.

The longer you can breastfeed, the better. The studies so far indicate that the more you stay away from all dairy products with a cow or soy source, the better. However, genetic predisposition is lots more powerful, in my opinion, than avoiding dairy products so use common sense.

Actual risk for a child of a woman with diabetes is in the neighborhood of 2-4%, So if you are a pessimist, this is higher than the general population. If you are an optimist, then your child’s risk for not developing diabetes is approximately 96-98%.

SB