Diabetes Risk Reflects When Cereals Enter Infant Diet
Harder, B., Science News
Precisely when babies first eat cereals may affect their odds of subsequently developing diabetes. Two studies suggest that giving cereals to diabetes-susceptible infants within 3 months of birth greatly enhances their risk for type 1 diabetes. One of these studies also concludes that waiting 7 months or more before introducing cereal carries similar risk. Other researchers say the intriguing new leads don't yet warrant changes in baby-care guidelines.
For years, scientists have been investigating environmental factors that might contribute to autoimmune disorders having known genetic components. These include type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, an autoimmune response to the cereal protein gluten. Some research has linked diabetes risk to young infants' consuming foods or formulas that contain proteins from cow's milk (SN: 6/26/99, p. 404). Other studies have found no such association.
To explore whether the timing of food introduction contributes to the risk of developing type 1 diabetes or celiac disease, researchers followed 1,610 German babies who had a family history of type 1 diabetes. They tracked the children from birth to an average of 6.5 years of age, noting when they began to eat various foods and whether they developed certain antibodies that tend to precede the onset of each autoimmune disorder.
Infants who are gluten before the age of 3 months were 5.2 times as likely to develop diabetes-related antibodies as the other infants were, Anette-G. Ziegler of Hospital Munchen-Schwabing in Munich, Germany, and her colleagues report in the Oct. 1 Journal of the American Medical Association. Their data indicate that neither dairy products nor foods that lack gluten affect diabetes risk and that celiac disease isn't connected to specific foods in a child's early diet.
Meanwhile, Jill M. …