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Breastfeeding May Lower Risk of Type 1 Diabetes

A recent study discovers that there may be an association between breastfeeding and lowering risk of type 1 diabetes…

The objective of this study was to determine the association of breast feeding duration with the risk of type 1 diabetes in genetically predisposed newborns. In addition, this study looked at duration of breastfeeding and the risk of islet autoimmunity.

During 2001-2007, newborns from the Norwegian general population were included in this study. After baseline genetic screening of 50,000 newborns, 908 newborns demonstrated high risk HLA genotype. These newborns were followed up with blood samples and questionnaires at age 3, 6, 9, 12 months and then annually. Among all the participant newborns, 726 newborns completed infant diet data.

After adjusting all the genetic predisposed risk factors including having a first-degree relative with type 1 diabetes, vitamin D supplementation, maternal education, sex, and delivery type, the study showed that any breastfeeding for 12 months or longer lowered the risk of developing type 1 diabetes compared with children who had less than 12 months of breastfeeding (HR 0.37 [95% CI 0.15-0.93]). Any breastfeeding for 12 months or longer did not demonstrate any association with islet autoimmunity; however, it anticipated the progression from islet autoimmunity to type 1 diabetes (HR 0.35 [95% CI 0.13-0.94]).

According to the authors, newborns who received breastfeeding for 12 months or longer have demonstrated lower risk of progression from islet autoimmunity to type 1 diabetes among genetically predisposed newborns.

Practice Pearls:

  • Any breastfeeding for 12 months or longer predicted a lower risk of type 1 diabetes and a lower risk of progression from islet autoimmunity to type 1 diabetes.
  • There is a difference between short and longer duration of breastfeeding of newborns in relation to risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
  • Breastfeeding for 12 months or longer lowered risk of developing type 1 diabetes among newborns.

Lund-Blix NA. Infant Feeding in Relation to Islet Autoimmunity and Type 1 Diabetes in Genetically Susceptible Children: The MIDIA Study. Diabetes Care 2015; 38:257-263