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October 31, 2009

Research: Causes and Prevention

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Question from Fort Mill, South Carolina, USA:

Is there any new research regarding infant formula and the early onset of type 1 diabetes? Our little boy, now two and a half, was diagnosed at 10 months with type 1. I am pregnant and wonder if there has been any significant link between formula and type 1. In these studies, what is the percentage decrease in type 1 do children who are exclusively breast fed and how long were they breast fed?

Answer:

Cow’s milk based formula apparently has some interaction with islet cell proteins and, so, is implicated as one of the possible environmental “causes” or precipitating factors in development of type 1 diabetes in those otherwise genetically susceptible. The best data suggests exclusive breast feeding for 12 months seems to offer some protection, so that is the advice that we usually provide. If this cannot be done for any reason, then providing some non-cow’s milk formulas, i.e., Nutramagen, is a reasonable alternative. Soy milks have similar proteins so these are not a good alternative. You should consider discussing this with your pediatric diabetes team since they would know whether or not antibody testing might be possible for other/future kids.

SB