Babies facing an inherited risk of developing diabetes should not be introduced to cereal too early. Apparently, those infants who had cereal incorporated into their diet before four to six months faced a higher diabetes risk, according to a new study.
Two separate teams, who both produced similar results, unveiled the research. The findings, from the University of Colorado at Denver and the Diabetes Research Institute in Munich, will be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Young babies who were given fibre or rice cereal before the recommended age faced a four or five times greater risk of developing an autoimmune response, potentially leading to type 1 diabetes over time. Those infants fed cereal after the recommended introduction period also faced higher risks of eventual diabetes.
The reasons why are not entirely clear, although the gluten in the cereal may prompt the immune system to take action. Key nutrients such as zinc and vitamin E may also be missing from those infants not fed cereal.
The researchers highlighted that their findings did not show that cereals caused diabetes, or that they were unhealthy. The autoimmune response does not always precede diabetes.