Adapted baby formula may prevent Type 1 in high-risk babies

New research suggests that feeding a baby that may be predisposed to Type 1 diabetes with a certain type of baby formula when weaning off breastfeeding may help ward off the disease, according to an article from HealthDay News.

As reported in Diabetes Newshound, Finnish researchers studied 230 babies that were considered at high risk of developing Type 1 diabetes. The babies were given either regular baby formula or special formula that was extensively hydrolyzed, meaning the proteins are partially broken down for easier digestion. What they found was that the special formula cut the number of antibodies in the blood associated with the development of the disease by about half by the time the child reached 10 years of age.

There are five types of immune system autoantibodies that have been linked to Type 1 diabetes and people with two or more of these autoantibodies have between 50% and 100% chance of developing the disease. While it is not known what causes Type 1 diabetes, researchers have suggested that breastfeeding may help protect against the disease. Some hypothesize that the introduction of regular baby formula, which contains complex proteins, may somehow trigger the production of autoantibodies associated with Type 1.

The study concluded that the hydrolyzed formula helped cut the presence of one type of diabetes-related autoantibody by 49% and reduced the risk of two others by 53%.

However, not everyone agrees with the study’s conclusions. Dr. David Harlan, co-director of the Diabetes Center of Excellence at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester said the data is not conclusive enough to recommend any changes for parents to make to their child’s diet. He also suggested that the study’s authors designed the study to “address their hypothesis.”
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