- WESTPORT (Reuters Health)
- The controversial link between drinking cow's milk during infancy and
the risk of developing diabetes may have been strengthened by a study published
- According to a report in the October issue of Diabetes,
exposure early in life to cow's milk may increase the lifetime risk of
developing diabetes in high-risk children.
- Exposure to cow's milk has previously been shown to cause
the body to mount an immune response to insulin in some children, but the
link has been disputed by at least one study. Type 1 diabetes can be characterized
by an "autoimmune'' response, where the body's immune system attacks
cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.
- Dr. Johanna Paronen from University of Helsinki, Finland,
and colleagues studied infants with relatives who had diabetes. The children
were fed either a cow's milk-based formula or a non-cow's milk based formula
after breast-feeding until the age of 6 to 8 months.
- At 3 months of age, infants fed cow's milk had a significantly
higher immune response to cow insulin than infants who received the other
formula or were breast-fed did, the authors report. However, the groups
showed no differences in reactivity to human insulin at that age.
- "Our observations raise the issue of whether oral
exposure to foreign insulin plays a role in the autoimmune process leading
to type 1 diabetes,'' Paronen and colleagues write. It could be that in
some predisposed children, early exposure to cow's milk could trigger an
immune reaction to insulin, they conclude.
- SOURCE: Diabetes 2000;49:1657-1665.
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