October 31, 2012
Research: Causes and Prevention, Research: Cure
Question from Louisville, Kentucky, USA:
My six-year-old son was diagnosed with type 1 almost two years ago. We are now pregnant with our third child. What is the current research on storing a sibling’s cord blood for a potential cure? Also, are there any preventative measures to reduce this baby’s risk of developing type 1 (i.e., nursing, vitamin supplementation, etc.)?
Congratulations on your pregnancy!
There are blood banks that will take and store cord blood but you will have to pay a fee to have this done. At present, the research has not much advanced or changed over the past few years so that this is not a clinical option, only a potential future therapeutic option. You should discuss this with your current diabetes team and they can let you know what local options are available for further consultation and cost analysis. The risk for a second child also having type 1 diabetes is in the range of 2 to 5%, slightly higher if identical HLA and other risk factors.
The best research suggest that 100% breast feeding for the first 12 months of life provides some protection. (Also, fewer gastrointestinal and respiratory infections as well as lower allergy risks.) Similarly, avoidance of wheat/gluten in some studies also provides some protection. Whether or not this is just a delay in ultimate diagnosis in someone susceptible genetically or more long lasting prevention is also not well established. Working with your pediatrician and perhaps also with La Leche and other friends and relatives who have successfully breast fed is a good recommendation since this increases the likelihood of successful breastfeeding.