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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.


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%.