New parents who have type 1 diabetes can rest assured that breastfeeding does not increase their babies’ chances of developing the disease.
Recent studies of 823 children of type 1 parents in Germany conclude there is no major association of breastfeed-ing with early islet-cell autoimmunity. The studies were published in Diabetes Care (23:969-974).
Vaccinations and childhood viral diseases were also cleared of any association with early signs of diabetes in this study. On the other hand, breastfeeding was not associated with protection from antibody development or diabetes onset. The babies were followed until age two, at which time 31 (3.7 percent) had islet antibodies and 10 (1.2 percent) had developed overt diabetes.
Meanwhile, a study of 200 infants, which appeared in the July 1999 issue of Diabetes, concluded that cow’s-milk feeding triggered an immunity to insulin that might explain the link between type 1 diabetes and early exposure to cow’s milk formulas.