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June 5, 2002

Research: Causes and Prevention

Question from Germantown, Tennessee, USA:

I have three relatives on my mother's side with type 1 diabetes, and I was diagnosed with type 2 almost two years ago, but it was recently determined that I have type 1. My children are six and eight years old, and I'm wondering if they should be tested to see if they are at risk for developing type 1. Should I ask their doctor, or my endocrinologist? I know what kind of lifestyle changes help prevent type 2, but is there anything (diets, etc.) I can do to lower their chances of getting type 1?

Answer:

Avoiding cow’s milk for the first several months of life may help decrease the risk of developing type 1 diabetes. A long term prospective study is underway in Finland that may provide some results in the next few years.

Avoiding obesity at all costs is also associated with lowered risk of developing type 2 diabetes for everyone.

There is some very early research that suggests appropriate vitamin intake may also be helpful including vitamin D. How much and to which people is not really known. Common sense suggests that getting adequate fresh vegetables and fruits would be the easiest way to accomplish this, if possible. Whether or not synthetic vitamins would do the same thing is also not known.

SB

[Editor’s comment: While low dose insulin failed to prevent type 1 diabetes, the studies are continuing. See DPT-1.

SS]