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October 29, 1999

Research: Causes and Prevention

Question from California, USA:

My 4 1/2 year old son was diagnosed with type 1 about four months ago. I recently read an article in a local magazine stating that breastfeeding reduces the risk of diabetes. Is this true? I did not breastfeed my son and am experiencing a tremendous amount of guilt.

Answer:

Yes, it is true, even though the opposite is not true: i.e., not breastfeeding does not increase the risk of type 1 diabetes. Just consider that in Sardinia, the region with the highest risk for Type 1 diabetes in the word, epidemiological studies has shown that breastfeeding actually seems to increase the risk of diabetes (Diabetes Care, 20, 3, 340-342, 1997). Therefore, don’t be anxious, and enjoy your son.

MS
Additional comments from The Editor:

See also Lack of association between duration of breast-feeding or introduction of cow’s milk and development of islet autoimmunity.

JSH