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Can Early Nutritional Modification Prevent Type 1 Diabetes?

A new EU-funded Diabetes Prevention study will be able to answer this question within the next 10 years. The study, which is a part of an international study called TRIGR// (Trial to Reduce IDDM in the Genetically at Risk) and coordinated by University of Helsinki, Finland, will research on the possibilities whether early nutritional modification may prevent type 1 diabetes later in childhood.

Type 1 diabetes is a growing health problem among European children. European data indicate that the disease incidence has increased five-six-fold among children under the age of 15 years after World War II, and there are no signs that the increase in incidence is leveling off. The most conspicuous increase has been seen among children under the age of 5 years.

The TRIGR study is the first study ever aimed at primary prevention of type 1 diabetes. The study is designed to answer to the question whether excluding cow's milk protein from the infant's diet decreases the risk of future diabetes. All subjects are followed for 10 years to get information on whether the dietary recommendations for infants at increased genetic risk of type 1 diabetes should be revised.

Starting in May 2002, 76 study centres from 15 countries (Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and USA) have been recruiting families for the study. To be eligible the newborn infant has to have at least one family member (mother, father and/or sib) affected by type 1 diabetes and carry a HLA genotype conferring increased risk for type 1 diabetes. The initial recruitment target of 2032 eligible infants was reached at the be-ginning of September 2006, but the Study Group has decided to continue recruitment till the end of December 2006 (when the EU contribution will finish) to make the study even more powerful statistically.

A majority of the study participants (52%) hav
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