Dietary intervention may lower risk of type 1 diabetes

It is generally thought that genetic predispositions determine whether or not a child will develop type 1 diabetes. While genetics play a large role, a new study from European researchers has found that nutrition in the early stages of life may also factor into the equation.

For the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers examined 230 newborns who had at least one family member affected by type 1 diabetes and tested positive for genetic predisposition to the disease.

Half of the newborns were weaned onto regular cow's milk while the remainder were weaned onto a hydrolyzed casein-based formula. Researchers found that 8 percent of children in the cow's milk group developed type 1 diabetes by age 10 while only 4 percent of children in the formula group developed the condition.

"The study showed that the safe and simple dietary intervention applied in this pilot trial was capable of reducing the emergence of diabetes-predictive autoantibodies by about 50 percent by age 10 in the participants carrying increased disease risk," said Mikael Knip, the University of Helsinki researcher who led the investigation.