A new study by scientists in Finland has found that infant feeding has a role in the start of the disease process that leads on to type 1 diabetes for children who carry an increased genetic disease risk. Although this was only a pilot trial, the findings show that it is possible to lower the initiation of the disease process substantially by early dietary intervention in high-risk individuals.
The research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined 230 newborn infants that had at least one family member affected by type 1 diabetes and a predisposing genotype from screening cord blood at birth. When the infants were put into two groups, the ones in the intervention group were weaned to a extremely hydrolyzed casein-based formula and Nutramige, while those in the control group were weaned to a regular cow’s milk-based formula supplemented with 20 per cent Nutramigen.
The study aimed to expose the participants to their study formula for a couple of months by the time they were six months old, or if exclusively breast-fed up to the age of eight months. The participants were monitored for the diabetes-predictive autoantibodies and progression to type 1 diabetes until they were 10 years old.
Mikael Knip, of the Hospital for Children and Adolescents and the University of Helsinki, said “The study showed that the safe and simple dietary intervention applied in this pilot trial was capable of reducing the emergence of diabetes-predictive autoantibodies by about 50 per cent by age 10 in the participants carrying increased disease risk .”

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