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Early exposure to cows' milk and diabetes link

Discussion in 'Ask A Question' started by Adam01, Jun 2, 2017.

  1. Adam01

    Adam01 · Member

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    Hello
    I don't have diabetes. My wife had gestational diabetes which didn't go away after birth - doctors have told her she has prediabetes based on her follow up blood tests. She manages this by following a very low carb diet (any significant carbs send her blood sugar high and make her feel unwell). She is very slim. Anyway we are aware that she clearly doesn't have the beginning of type 1 diabetes or maybe not even type 2, just something off which is causing her high blood sugars.
    The diagnosis was in a way a blessing in disguise as we both now follow a healthy diet but we are in no way obsessive about it. We are also very much more aware of the condition and this has led us to discover that early exposure to cows milk in children susceptible to type 1 diabetes can trigger the condition. My wife is still breastfeeding as we know it has a protective factor against diabetes. Now I know that our son (who is 9 months) is not necessarily susceptible (based on the fact nobody in our family has type 1), but I was wondering out of curiousity more than anything what early exposure constitutes. Does it mean the first few months of life (I.e. down to formula milk) or does the potential risk last longer (e.g. consumption of dairy products when weaning or introduction of full fat cows milk at the age of 1 as the main drink). I can't find anything that defines 'early exposure'. Apologies for the long story! We just want to make sure we are giving our boy the best start in life!
     
  2. tim2000s

    tim2000s Type 1 · Expert
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    Hi @Adam01, welcome to the forum. The answer is nobody knows. There's not really a proven link between Cow's milk formula and Type 1 diabetes, just rather a lot of conjecture and hypothesis, as the studies that exist seem to contradict each other.

    If your wife is pre-diabetic (as in pre-type 2) then the genetic pattern she will display is not the same as that of type 1, so your child is highly unlikely to be at higher risk of type 1. If, however, she has had GAD or IA2 tests done and they have come back positive, that would be a rather different case, and is worth investigating.

    By all means, do your best to give your boy the best chance in life, but make sure that you research everything related to this type of "data" very carefully.
     
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  3. azure

    azure Type 1 · Expert

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    @Adam01 You're right. Studies have suggested that breastfeeding reduces the risk of Type 1. It also reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes :)

    As Tim says, nobody can say for sure whether the risk continues during childhood. I was originally told that it was the introduction of cow/formula milk in the first 6 months that was the risk, but in my most recent pregnancy my consultant repeated the WHO advice to breastfeed up to 3 years. So I'd say your wife could breastfeed as long as she's happy to :)



    Post edited in the light of further info
     
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    #3 azure, Jun 2, 2017 at 2:33 PM
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2017
  4. Adam01

    Adam01 · Member

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    Thanks both for your helpful replies. I thought as much about the evidence. There's so much conflicting info out there. I suppose you have to do what you think is best as a parent with the information you have available.

    @azure - she hasn't had any further testing no. I think we assumed she couldn't have type 1 because she has had the blood sugar issues for over a year at least now (when they were first picked up in pregnancy) and aren't 'severe' enough (sorry don't know how else to put it). I thought they would have progressed by now. The highest she reaches is 12mmol you see, and although she stays there for a good few hours, I know that type 1 diabetics' readings are much higher (when not treated). She did lose a lot of weight initially and when she reverted back to the higher carb diet after pregnancy (when she thought the issue had gone) but has managed to put a bit on now so she's healthier by eating more dairy, protein, nuts and seeds egg.

    I think she's likely to continue with the breastfeeding until he's at least 1 anyway as she enjoys the bonding etc. It's good to know that it's proven to cut the risk of both types of diabetes too. Thanks for taking the time to reply.
     
  5. azure

    azure Type 1 · Expert

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    @Adam01 Type 1 comes on more slowly in adults. You've also mentioned weight loss which is a sign of Type 1. However, the weight loss could be connected to her restricted diet.

    If I was her, I'd ask for further tests and for a referral to a specialist if neended.

    It's great that she's enjoying the breastfeeding :) I'm still breastfeeding my toddler and still enjoying it :)
     
  6. Adam01

    Adam01 · Member

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    Thanks @azure, I will talk to her about the further tests, although I think it will be difficult to convince her. I think she's kind of lost faith in the doctors after they just harped on about diet and exercise despite the fact that she was severely underweight already and managing on only around 50g carbs total. She found it very difficult to come to terms with to start with (particularly as a former chocolate addict!) But she's accepted it now and likes her diet. She has kind of put it to the back of her mind. It's definitely made us more aware of diet etc though and obviously our son. I think that's her main concern. She's very conscious of not becoming obsessed about what might happen in the future but equally wants to ensure she does everything she can to keep him healthy, hence the breastfeeding!
    It's good to know you're still breastfeeding and that it can be done into tolddlerhood. Do your children have this in place of cows milk or in addition to? (If you don't mind me asking).
     
  7. auroralapetite

    auroralapetite Type 1 · Active Member

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    I've never been pregnant/ had gestational diabetes, but it took 4 years from me to progress from a diagnosis of LADA to needing insulin so don't assume that because it hasn't happened quickly, it's not autoimmune.
     
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  8. azure

    azure Type 1 · Expert

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    My son has just breastmilk :) I pump extra to keep in the fridge for his cereal, etc :) My older children have normal cows milk now but I did give them A2 Milk when they were younger as that's supposed to be the 'best' cow's milk.

    If she's fed up with doctors - and I can understand why - suggest she sees a specialist to discuss her concerns.
     
  9. Adam01

    Adam01 · Member

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    Thanks @auroralapetite - that's interesting and will definitely keep it in mind.

    @azure - perhaps a specialist is the way forward. Do you have to go via the GP? I will try to convince her! I didn't realise type 1 could progress slowly so that's something to bear in mind. Thanks for letting me know about the A2 milk. I'd never heard of it before but just looked into it and it sounds like a better option that normal milk for everyone! Hats off to you for the long term pumping. My wife does a bit for cereal etc but finds it quite time consuming. Needless to say we don't get out much! Does your son have dairy products such as cheese?
     
  10. azure

    azure Type 1 · Expert

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    @Adam01 Just rereading your first post there, you say the doctor told her her GD hadn't gone away, is that right? Did the doctor do any tests to deduce this? Eg HbA1C, fasting blood glucose, oral glucose tolerance test.
     
  11. Diakat

    Diakat Type 1 · Moderator
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    Hello @Adam01
    Thanks for the tag @azure
    Yes I turned out to be a type 1 but it was picked up in pregnancy.
    I breastfeed my daughter and she is 6 now with no signs of diabetes. I was formula fed myself. She was exclusively breast fed until 6 months then other things including cows milk came in.
    I think your wife may need to be kept an eye on to check she is not a slow onset type 1.
    Your children have a slightly higher risk genetically of diabetes if she is type 1 but not a huge risk. Know the signs and act if worried but otherwise try to get on with life without too many concerns.
     
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  12. Adam01

    Adam01 · Member

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    Yes she had an oral glucose tolerance test about 10 weeks after our son was born and her result after the 2 hours was 9 I believe. Following that she received a letter from the doctors to discuss and they said she was 'prediabetic' and would need a hba1c every year and a follow up glucose tolerance test. She had another follow up about a month ago and her 2 hour result was 10.2. She has also had a hba1c which came back low - 33 - which we think is down to low carbing. She still tests occasionally - discovered that certain carbs give her higher readings (9-12) so has decided to avoid them as they make her feel very thirsty, hot and under the weather. This is why we don't believe she is type 1 as she can keep pretty tight control (just on very few carbs!)
     
  13. Adam01

    Adam01 · Member

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    Thank you for sharing your experience @Diakat. Yes you're right, it is important not to get too hung up on these things! We will certainly keep an eye out for symptoms should they occur but are hoping (particularly given there's nothing to suggest he'll develop diabetes) that he will be just fine. Cows milk study just got me interested, particularly now we're approaching the 1 year mark!
     
  14. azure

    azure Type 1 · Expert

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    @Adam01 Is your wife a member here too? That history and those figures sound familiar.
     
  15. Adam01

    Adam01 · Member

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    @azure No she's not, although I think she did post on here (or another website I can't remember) in the early weeks when she was feeling down and confused, so perhaps you remember her posts from then?
     
  16. azure

    azure Type 1 · Expert

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    I do indeed :)

    Just to reassure you (and her) an HbA1C of 33 is firmly in the non-diabetic range :)

    Carbs are important for breastfeeding so she shouldn't eat too few. In addition, her restricted diet might be causing the higher sugars that are worrying her.

    Looking at that HbA1C! I'd revise my posts above and suggest she eat well and not worry about diabetes.
     
  17. Adam01

    Adam01 · Member

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    Yes she was very happy with that hba1c! We have had the discussion about carbs and breastfeeding and I believe she spoke to her doctor about that too. She definitely was concerned in the early days (maybe you know this from her posts and perhaps that's why I'm on here asking the question about cows milk instead of her!) but not now she's got it sussed with the low carbs - it was eating normal amounts of carbs in those months after birth that made her feel thirsty and unwell and get high blood sugars. She's just following the advice of the doc regarding the annual tests following his diagnosis of 'prediabetes' and leaving it there!

    Anyway, thanks for the useful info about the cows milk!
     
  18. azure

    azure Type 1 · Expert

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    Send her my best wishes and tell her to look after herself and to not worry. Worry will steal her energy and distract her from those precious days that go too fast.

    Well done on the breastfeeding. She should be very proud :)
     
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