A Virtue of Mother’s Milk

Short-term breast feeding may increase a child’s chance of getting diabetes, says a study conducted by researchers in Finland.

The findings, published in the January issue of Diabetologia, showed that babies breast fed for a period of less than four months were more likely to develop an autoimmunity of their beta cells, a dysfunction of the immune system that leads to type 1 diabetes.

In the study, researchers at seven different research institutions throughout Finland observed 2,949 infants from birth to four years of age. They tested the children, all with a genetic risk of developing type 1 diabetes, for islet-cell antibodies every three months.

The results showed that the babies who were fed only breast milk for at least four months were less likely to have the antibodies. The babies who were breast fed for less than two and up to four months who then switched to cow’s milk, had higher chances of testing positive for beta-cell autoimmunity.

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