The length of time infants are breastfed and when certain foods are introduced to their diet, such as cow’s milk, may affect Type 1 diabetes risk.
Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of 152 eligible studies to identify foods consistently linked to Type 1 diabetes, including being breastfed, foods eaten by the mother during pregnancy and foods consumed during infancy and childhood.
The review found that babies breastfed for at least six to 12 months were 61% less likely to develop diabetes than those breastfed for less. The researchers stated that breastfeeding promotes the maturation of the immune system and that breast milk enhances the gut microbiota that helps to regulate the immune system. In contrast, consuming more cow’s milk and dairy products during childhood was associated with a higher risk of islet autoimmunity and Type 1 diabetes.
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