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.
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.
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.