"I think the authors designed this study to address their hypothesis that proteins present in non-hydrolyzed formula might incite an immune response, and by breaking them down, you might eliminate the immune response. But, there are quite a few steps between that and how the immune system or diabetes are triggered," added Harlan's editorial co-author, Dr. Mary Lee, a professor of pediatrics and cell biology and chief of the pediatric endocrine division at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center.
"I think this is an important study because we need to understand what causes type 1 diabetes," said Harlan, who added the caveat: "In this study, while there is an apparent signal, there are also some causes for withholding complete faith in the conclusion that the formula caused diabetes."
Both Lee and Harlan stressed that there is currently no definitive evidence to suggest that the use of standard cow's milk formulas leads to an increased incidence of diabetes compared to breastfeeding. The hydrolyzed formula is also considerably more expensive than standard formula, experts point out.
Learn more about type 1 diabetes from the American Diabetes Association.
SOURCES: Michael Knip, M.D., Ph.D., professor, pediatrics, the Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Helsinki, Finland; David Harlan, M.D., William and Doris Krupp Professor in Medicine, and co-director, Diabetes Center of Excellence, University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, and professor of medicine and pediatrics, and Chief, Diabetes Division, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Mass.; Mary M. Lee, M.D., professor of pedi
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