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Dietary Intervention in Infancy and Later Signs of Beta-Cell Autoimmunity

New England Journal of Medicine - Knip M, et al. N Engl J Med. 2010; 363:1900-1908

Researchers studied 230 infants in Finland who were randomly assigned after birth to receive either standard cow’s milk formula or a special formula in which the proteins had been broken down into components too small to activate the immune system (a process called hydrolyzation) whenever breast milk was not available. Breast-feeding was encouraged and exceeded national averages in both study groups. All of the infants had a genetic susceptibility to diabetes and had at least one family member with type 1 diabetes. They were followed until their 10th birthday.

 Results showed that infants who received the standard cow's milk formula were twice as likely to develop one or more diabetes-related antibodies. The antibodies took anywhere from 3 months to 10 years to appear. Study leader, Dr Mikael Knip of the University of Helsinki said: 'Our results indicate that a preventive dietary intervention aimed at decreasing the risk of type 1 diabetes may be feasible.'
However, the study was not large enough to draw any conclusions about the participants’ progression to overt type 1 diabetes.

A larger study of 2,160 infants, now ongoing in 15 countries, is expected to provide more definitive results in 2017.

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