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Special Infant Formula Might Help Shield Babies from Type 1 Diabetes
Date:11/11/2010

in the study.

Previous research has suggested that breastfeeding may offer some protection against the development of these antibodies, possibly because breastfeeding delays the introduction of infant formula, which contains complex proteins. Formula may somehow trigger the development of autoantibodies as these proteins are broken down for digestion.

The current study was randomized and double-blind (meaning neither the parents nor the researchers knew who was getting what), and compared regular baby formula to one that was made easier for babies to digest because the proteins were broken down (extensively hydrolyzed).

Babies were offered the formula during the first 6 to 8 months of life, any time breastfeeding wasn't available. They were then followed till they were about 10 years old, according to the study.

After adjusting the data to try to account for the duration of exposure to one of the study formulas, the researchers found that the extensively hydrolyzed formula reduced the risk of having one diabetes autoantibody by 49 percent, and the risk of having two or more autoantibodies by 53 percent.

How the highly hydrolyzed formula might reduce the risk of developing diabetes-predictive antibodies is unknown, but the researchers speculated that it might contribute to reduced gut permeability or changes in gut microflora, among other things.

According to Knip, the take-home message from the study is that "it is possible to reduce considerably the initiation of the diabetes disease process in at-risk children in a simple and safe way: weaning to an extensively hydrolyzed formula." He added that, "based on the current results, we think that it is justified to recommend weaning to a highly hydrolyzed formula for babies in families with a member affected by type 1 diabetes."

Not everyone agreed with that notion, however.

"The data in this study is not sufficiently strong to support recommending any changes for p
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