HELSINKI – Choosing the right formula could stave off infant diabetes, according to a new global study distributed Thursday.
The study showed that if a mother transitions from breastfeeding to "highly hydrolyzed formula," which is broken down for easier digestion, the infant may have a lower risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes can be fatal unless treated indefinitely with insulin.
The study, lead by Dr. Mikael Knip of the University of Helsinki, examined infants carrying an HLA genotype, which puts them at risk for developing diabetes later in life.
The trial, published in the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition, showed promising results in infants who underwent the transition from breastfeeding to the easily digestible hydrolyzed formula. By age five, the signs of diabetes in those children had decreased by 50 percent in comparison to children who moved from breastfeeding directly to foods such as cereals, fruit, or other types of formula.
"Short-term breastfeeding and early exposure to complex dietary proteins, such as cow milk proteins and cereals, or to fruit, berries, and roots have been implicated as risk factors," for type 1 diabetes, the authors wrote.
Most available formulas have a base of cow's milk, which can be difficult for infants to digest before their first birthday.
The study's findings were confirmed in a follow-up analysis when the children were ten years old. The trial is currently occurring in 77 centers in 15 countries worldwide.