- Experts say that even an early diet of fruit or gluten can increase the chances of the disease.
- Scientists at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden reviewed 152 previous papers
- Those who breastfed for at least six to 12 months were 61 percent less likely to suffer from it
One study suggests that breastfed babies are less likely to develop type 1 diabetes, but those who drink more cow’s milk have a higher risk.
Researchers warn that even an early diet of fruits or gluten, such as cereals, breads and pastas, may exacerbate their disease.
The scientists reviewed 152 previous research papers that examined how 27 dietary factors affected the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
This includes foods eaten by the mother in pregnancy, foods eaten in infancy and childhood, and the effects of breastfeeding.
In type 1 diabetes, the immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, preventing the body from making enough hormones to control blood sugar levels.
Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the heart, eyes, feet, and kidneys and shorten life expectancy.
The scientists reviewed 152 previous research papers that examined how 27 dietary factors affected the risk of developing type 1 diabetes. This includes foods eaten by the mother in pregnancy, foods eaten in infancy and childhood, and the effects of breastfeeding.
What triggered the attack is unknown, but is believed to involve a combination of a genetic predisposition and an environmental trigger such as a virus or food.
The number of diagnoses among young people is increasing by an estimated 3.4 percent each year.
The new analysis, presented at the annual meeting of the European Union for the Study of Diabetes, shows that babies who breastfeed longer and those who are exclusively breastfed are less likely to develop the disease.
Those who breastfed for at least six to 12 months were 61 percent less likely to suffer, compared to those who breastfed for a shorter period.
And those who were given only breast milk for the first two to three months were 31 percent less likely to develop the condition than those who weren’t exclusively breastfed.
Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden say that breastfeeding promotes maturation of the baby’s immune system and increases their gut bacteria.
What is the NHS advice for breastfeeding mothers?
Here are the NHS guidance for holding your baby to your breast:
- hold your baby by the level of the nose with the nipple close to you
- Wait until your baby opens his mouth really wide with his tongue down. You can encourage them to do the same by gently stroking their upper lip.
- bring your baby to your breast
- Your baby will tilt his head back and will first come to the chin of your breasts
Remember to support your baby’s neck but don’t hold the back of his head.
Then they should be able to take a big mouthful of breast. Your nipple should go towards the roof of their mouth.
In contrast, higher consumption of cow’s milk and dairy products such as butter, cheese, yogurt and ice cream before the age of 15 was associated with a higher risk of type 1 diabetes.
For example, people who drank at least two to three 200 milliliters of cow’s milk a day were 78 percent more likely to develop the disease than those who consumed less.
Early introduction of cow’s milk into the diet was also associated with a higher risk.
Those who started drinking cow’s milk at the age of two or three months were 31 percent less likely to develop the disease compared to those who started consuming it earlier.
Later adding gluten to the diet cut the chances of developing type 1 diabetes by more than half.
Babies who started eating gluten-containing foods, such as cereals, breads, pastries, biscuits and pasta at 3 to 6 months of age, were 54 percent less likely to develop the disease than those who were previously introduced to foods .
Waiting until a baby is four to six months old to include fruit in their diet was also associated with a 53 percent reduction in risk.
The study authors say it is unclear whether delaying the introduction of these foods directly protects against disease or if infants are benefiting from longer-term breastfeeding.
There was no clear association between type 1 diabetes and the age of introduction of formula milk or the consumption of meat and vegetables.
Nor was there any association between a mother’s gluten and vitamin D intake during pregnancy and her baby’s condition.
Study leader Anna-Maria Lampousi said: ‘Learning more about the causes is key to preventing type 1 diabetes – and its complications.
‘The identification of foods and other environmental triggers that can be modified would be particularly valuable.
‘The strongest findings were for the beneficial effects of breastfeeding and the harmful effects of early introduction of cow’s milk, gluten and fruit.
‘However, most of the evidence to date is of limited quality and high quality research is necessary before any specific dietary recommendations can be made.’