Exposure to probiotic supplements could reduce the risk of islet autoimmunity among children at risk of type 1 diabetes.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that can have various health benefits, including positively influencing gut bacteria.
Study author Ulla Uusitalo, PhD, Morsani College of Medicine at the University of South Florida, wrote that while probiotic supplements are considered safe in infants, it is unclear if giving them very early in life can affect disease susceptibility.
In the Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) study, newborns are screened for type 1 diabetes HLA genotypes at three centres in Europe (Finland, Germany and Sweden) and three centres in the United States (Colorado, Georgia/Florida, and Washington).
From 2004 until early 2010, 427,788 newborns were screened for type 1 diabetes associated HLA genotypes. 21,589 infants were eligible for probiotic analysis, but the final sample included 7,473 children.
Early probiotic supplementation between 0-27 days was associated with a decreased risk of islet autoimmunity compared to supplementation after 27 days, or no supplementation at all.
Type 1 diabetes-related autoantibodies were observed using blood samples and collected from the children every three months between the ages of 3-48 months, and every six months afterwards.
Uusitalo said: “This is the first time, to our knowledge, that the association between probiotic use and type 1 diabetes–related islet autoimmunity has been studied in a longitudinal, observational setting among genetically high-risk children.”
Uusitalo told MedPage Today: “Certainly, we need more studies to confirm this, but it looks like probiotics may be protective against islet autoimmunity, but only in children with the highest risk for type 1 diabetes.”
The findings were published online in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.