New parents like British royals Will and Kate might not want to rush the introduction of solid food into their baby’s diet. That’s not to say they want to put it off, either.
According to the results of a new study, babies who ate their first solid food either before four months or after six months of age were more likely to develop type 1 diabetes than those who were exposed to solids when they were between four to five months of age.
The study looked at 1,835 children who were at increased genetic risk of type 1 and were part of the Diabetes Autoimmunity Study in the Young, a 10-year project of Denver’s St. Joseph’s Hospital that ran from 1994 to 2004. Of those, 53 developed type 1 diabetes.
Although a few factors, including the presence of insulin-targeting antibodies and a first-degree relative with type 1, played a significant role, early and late exposures to solid food did help predict the development of type 1, researchers said.
The study was conducted by Brittni Frederiksen and colleagues at the University of Colorado, Aurora, and suggests that the balance between the instruction of solid food and type 1 is as delicate as that of food intake and insulin.
The study found that early exposure to fruit and late exposure to rice and oats both were tied to the development of type 1, though breastfed babies saw a lessened risk. The introduction of vegetables and meat did not have an impact, researchers said.
“While much of the focus of infant diet and T1DM research has been on the timing of the introduction of a single antigen (i.e., milk or gluten), our data suggest multiple foods/antigens play a role and that there is a complex relationship between the timing and type of infant food exposures and T1DM risk. In summary, there appears to be a safe window in which to introduce solid foods between four and five months of age; solid foods should be introduced while continuing to breastfeed to minimize T1DM risk in genetically susceptible children,” investigators said.
Researchers said their findings are particularly important given the increase of type 1 cases worldwide, especially among children under five years of age.