Type 1 Diabetes Introducing Solid Food While Breast Feeding May Reduce Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with Jill M. Norris, MPH, PhD
Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado, Aurora

MedicalResearch.com: What were the most significant findings? How do they relate to what was already known about this subject?

Dr. Norris: One of the most intriguing findings is that if mothers are still breast-feeding when they introduce gluten-containing foods to their baby, they may reduce the risk for T1D.  This is similar to a finding from a Swedish study that found that breast-feeding while introducing gluten-containing foods may reduce the risk for celiac disease, an autoimmune condition that has several similarities with T1D.

In children at increased genetic risk for T1D, our data suggest that parents should wait to introduce any solid foods until after the 4 month birthday.  And when the baby is ready, solid foods should be introduced by the 6 months birthday or soon thereafter, preferably while the mother is still breast-feeding the baby, which may reduce the risk of T1D.
MedicalResearch.com: How do you plan to take this work forward?

Dr. Norris:  We would like to replicate these results in a larger population.  This would allow us to examine how these findings fit in with other factors that have been associated with diabetes-related autoimmunity, a preclinical outcome of T1D, and T1D itself, such as omega-3 fatty acids, and viruses.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the implications of your findings for clinical practice?

Dr. Norris: Our findings align with the AAP recommendation to introduce solid foods between 4-6 months of age.  Also, the AAP Section on Breastfeeding recommends exclusive breastfeeding for ‘about 6 months.’ Our analyses show that women can exclusively breastfeed their child for 6 months and introduce solid foods on or soon after the 6 month birthday without increasing their child’s risk of T1D.    Because our findings support the current recommendations, they do not call for any changes to clinical practice.

Citation:

Frederiksen B, Kroehl M, Lamb MM, et al. Infant Exposures and Development of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus: The Diabetes Autoimmunity Study in the Young (DAISY).
JAMA Pediatr. 2013;():-. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.317.