Sunday, June 12, 2011

Infant Formula and Type 1 Diabetes

What wouldn't you do to keep your child healthy?
            Any Mom would want to do anything she could to reduce the chances her baby would get a chronic disease like Type 1 Diabetes. People with Type 1 Diabetes know what it’s like to deal with Type 1 Diabetes every single day.
            Just the other week, I saw a Mom with Type 1 Diabetes who had done all she could before and during pregnancy. She worked really hard with our team to control her blood glucose using all the tools and tricks we had. Although her baby arrived a few weeks early, she delivered a healthy baby boy. Our whole staff celebrated with her.
            But like many mothers, she could not quite meet her baby’s nutritional needs by breastfeeding. So she supplemented with formula. She was using Enfamil.
            Her doctors apparently had not yet informed her of the results of an important recent study.
            To understand this study it is important to know that Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease. That means a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks itself. There are many autoimmune conditions.
            In Type 1 Diabetes, the insulin producing (beta cells) cells are attacked. Blood tests for autoantibodies can show up evidence of this attack on the beta cells.
            This major study was conducted in Finland where there’s lots of Type 1 Diabetes. Babies who had a mother or father or sibling with Type 1 Diabetes were studied. That means these newborns were at especially high risk of getting diabetes. All these babies were not able be breastfed so they needed formula during their first 6 months of life. Half of the babies were given mostly Enfamil, a cows milk formula and the other half were given Nutramigen which contains cow's milk protein that has been broken down or hydrolyzed into its building blocks called amino acids. The babies were randomly assigned, like the flip of a coin into one group or the other. The babies were then followed for up to 10 years for signs in the blood of those auto-antibodies relating to Type 1 Diabetes.
            So what did they find?  The likelihood of having auto-antibodies was about 50% less with the Nutramigen!
            I gave a copy of this study to my happy mom with Type 1 Diabetes for to her to share with the pediatrician.
            Although further studies need to be done, these results may translate into a much lower risk for Type 1 Diabetes by avoiding cow’s milk or cow’s milk formulas like Enfamil in the first 6 months of life.
            Lets’ hope so.
            Have you heard about this important study?


  1. Another study by epidemiologist Frank Garland shows that type 1 diabetes is 80-97% preventable with proper supplementation of vitamin D. Most of his work is based on studies done in Finland as well.

    Even after acquiring diabetes, both of these approaches are helpful in improving the situation. And that is also what I have observed. Whenever I consume dairy, my numbers get very bad disproportionately to how much I ate. Similarly, aggressive Vitamin D supplementation makes the diabetes far more manageable.

    With that said, I didn't really consume much dairy early in life as I was predominantly breastfed. I also had plenty of sun exposure as a child since I was born in a tropical area. But I got diabetes in my twenties after living in a northern city for some time.

    1. Thanks for your comments. Of course epidemiologic studies are of interest but cannot prove causation. See my post on diet beverages and fatness.