Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found high levels of food toxins called Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs) in infants. Excessive food AGEs, through both maternal blood transmission and baby formula, could together significantly increase children's risk for diseases such as diabetes from a very young age. A second study of AGEs in adults found that cutting back on processed, grilled, and fried foods, which are high in AGEs, may improve insulin resistance in people with diabetes. AGEs -- toxic glucose byproducts previously tied to high blood sugar -- are found in most heated foods and, in great excess, in commercial infant formulas.
The first report, published in Diabetes Care in December 2010, showed that AGEs can be elevated as early as at birth, indicating that infants are highly susceptible to the inflammation associated with insulin resistance and diabetes later in life. Helen Vlassara, MD, Professor and Director of the Division of Experimental Diabetes and Aging, working with Jaime Uribarri, MD, Professor of Medicine and colleagues at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, looked at 60 women and their infants to see if there was a passive transfer of AGEs from the blood of mothers to their babies. They found that newborn infants, expected to be practically AGE-free, had levels of AGEs in their blood as high as their adult mothers.
Within the first year of life, after switching from breast milk onto commercial formulas, the infants' AGEs had doubled to levels seen in people with diabetes, and many had elevated insulin levels. Formulas that are processed under high heat can contain 100 times more AGEs than human breast milk, delivering a huge AGE surplus to infants, which could be toxic.
"Modern food AGEs can overwhelm the body's defenses, a worrisome fact especially for young children," said Dr. Vlassara. "More research is certainly needed, but the findings confirm our studies in genetic animal models of
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The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine