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Early Solid Foods and Increased Risk of Type 1 Diabetes?

How early is too early?

Previous studies directed toward discovering the proper age to wean a child and start adding complementary foods have discovered a correlation between an early introduction to other foods and an increased genetic risk for developing type 1 diabetes. According to these studies, adding in complementary foods before the age of 4 months is considered too soon. This study, conducted at 3 sites in Europe and 3 sites in the United States over 2 years, aims to identify what sociodemographic factors contribute to these early introductions.

By arranging maternal visits every three months and having the mothers answer self-reported questionnaires regarding their sociodemographic data and the age at which their child began eating complementary foods, researchers were able to identify factors which correlated with an early introduction of these foods. Of the participants involved, 15-20% of the infants were introduced to complementary foods before the age of 4 months.

In this study, it was discovered that the main three factors were the mother being at a young age (<25 years), the mother having been through less education (<12 years), and the mother being a smoker during her pregnancy.

Practice Pearls:
  • Early introduction to complementary foods has been found to correlate with increased genetic risk of type 1 diabetes.
  • 15-20% of the infants involved in this study were introduced before the age of 4 months.
  • The main factors which correlated to an early introduction to these foods were a young maternal age (<25 years), a less educated mother (<12 years), and the mother smoking during pregnancy.

Matern Child Nutr., September 2013